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!"