WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- A few minutes before the close of the two-hour NBC show, The Sing-Off, Minnesotans learned that the a cappella vocal band, Home Free, had won the contest. After weeks of rehearsing and recording, the Minneapolis-based group rose to the top of the competition, and ultimately were awarded the $100,000 prize and a Sony Music recording contract.
Two members of Home Free, Chris and Adam Rupp, have their roots in southwest Minnesota. They are the sons of Cindy and Steve Rupp of Mankato, and the grandsons of Betty Rupp of Westbrook.
Chris sings baritone, and Adam is the group's vocal percussionist, providing the only accompaniment with his beat-boxing skills. Other members of the group are: Rob Lundquist, tenor from the Twin Cities area, Austin Brown, tenor from Georgia, and Tim Foust, bass from Texas.
Chris Rupp, who is also Home Free's Managing Director, answered these questions in an on-line interview:
Q: How did you get the name Home Free?
A: A founding member's grandfather helped provide financial support for the group in the early days. He had a boat named Home Free...so, in honor of him helping us .... (we chose that name.)
Q: Which celebrity did you most enjoy meeting?
A: Probably Shawn Stockman. I was always a huge fan of Boyz II Men growing up, and Shawn's passion for music and this art form is just infectious!
Q: What was the best experience you had on "The Sing-Off"?
A: Performing the sing-off song with FilHarmonic, I'm all right, with the gopher dance was truly remarkable.
Q: What was the worst experience?
A: The long days...7 days a week, 12 hours a day, for almost 8 weeks, was just grueling in every aspect.
Q: Was it hard to keep the results secret?
A: Most frustrating! We knew we'd won, but weren't able to see any results from that for a long time. It's hard to be so proud of something that no one knows about!
Q: What are some behind the scene things we did not see on TV?
A: All of the camaraderie the groups had with each other -- we really all were friends and supported each other constantly.
Q: Do you, Chris, do all of the musical arrangements?
A: No, Tim and I split them up equally, though we all work on them collaboratively once the first draft is done.
Q: Does Adam's beat-boxing hurt his throat?
A: No, the rest of us get tired before he does.
Q: How did Adam learn to beat-box?
A: He started doing it in college when the group formed, and learned from a few practice videos that were out there. Then, just lots and lots of practice.
Q: What lies ahead for Home Free?
A: Our new CD, Crazy Life, comes out in just a few weeks, as well as the national Sing-0ff Tour -- 33 cities in 39 days! For schedule go to: www.singofftour.com
Q: What was the reaction of the crowd at the Mankato viewing party when it was announced that you had won?
A: Immediate standing ovation! That was very fun, knowing what was coming.
Q: What do your parents, Steve and Cindy Rupp, think about all of the excitement?
A: They're very, very proud. There were tears in my dad's eyes as he held up the trophy at our viewing party.
Q: What is the best musical skill you learned from your mom, Cindy? How to improvise on the piano...it's pretty hard to follow in her footsteps though!
Cindy is the musical director at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mankato, and was recently honored for her 35 years of contributing to the outstanding music program at this church.
Chris and Adam's father, Steve Rupp, owns River Valley Insurance Services in Saint Peter and sells for many different companies!
Tristin, Chris and Adam's younger sister, lives in LA, where she is a model, singer, and actress. Adam's wife, Ericha, is a music therapist in the Twin Cities area.
The definition of the phrase home free is, "Having successfully achieved or being within sight of achieving one's objectives." With international television fame and a Sony recording contract in their back pockets, Home Free certainly IS now “HOME FREE!"