Home Free serves up another helping of Christmas cheer
By John Benson
There’s no denying Home Free has plenty of Christmas spirit. Over the last decade the a cappella act, known for its unique renditions of country and pop hits, has released three holiday albums, including 2014’s “Full of Cheer.”
Now the quintet – Austin Brown (high tenor), Adam Chance (baritone), Tim Foust (bass), Rob Lundquist (tenor) and Adam Rupp (vocal percussion/beatboxer) — is back with a deluxe version of its latest season album.
“There’s even more cheer,” said Lundquist, calling from his Minnesota home. “Christmas is a great time for a cappella. It’s really fun to take Christmas songs people have heard a million times and kind of put the Home Free spin on it.”
That spin can be heard on the newly released “Full of [Even More] Cheer,” which includes favorites such as “White Christmas” performed with a “Happy Trails” vibe. There’s also added new song “How Great Thou Art,” which Lundquist said he was inspired by the Statler Brothers’ version as a child.
“It’s a very popular hymn, and we currently released a music video that’s gone viral,” Lundquist said. “It’s beautiful. We shot it in the Austrian Alps. I think people really love hearing five voices singing that song.
“It’s one of the most beautiful arrangements we’ve done. It’s one of my favorite things we’ve ever sung.”
Even though the a cappella zeitgeist has been going strong for the last five years or so, Home Free got its start at the turn of the century. What really propelled the act into the mainstream was winning the 2014 season four of “The Sing Off.” The exposure from the popular reality show turned Home Free into an Internet sensation with more than 93 million YouTube views.
From there, the vocal group released three nonholiday studio albums, the latest being 2015’s “Country Evolution,” which included collaborations with the Oak Ridge Boys and Charlie Daniels. Home Free also appeared on a Kenny Rogers Christmas album and released a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” featuring Pentatonix’s Avi Kaplan.
Overall, it’s been quite a journey for Home Free.
“We started way back when a cappella was not a cool thing to do,” Lundquist said. “When I said I sing in an a cappella act, they’d immediately think it was barbershop. So it’s been really fun to see the renaissance of a cappella.”
Home Free brings its “A Country Christmas Tour” to the Mahoning Valley on Friday for a show Packard Music Hall in Warren. The group will be concentrating on its Christmas catalog, as well as the different country songs (“Elvira” and “Ring of Fire”) that over the years made the band a YouTube sensation.
Speaking of the holiday season and presuming the group members have been nice, what’s something Home Free hopes Santa Claus brings this Christmas?
“We’re always asking to get on the radio, so that would be amazing,” Lundquist said.
As for radio airplay, does Santa Claus have connections to radio programmers?
“He should,” Lundquist laughed. “Come on Santa, help us out.”