Finally, we have a Minnesota winner on a TV-singing contest. After untriumphant Twin Cities finalists on “The Voice” and “American Idol,” Home Free, a Minneapolis-based vocal quintet, won the grand prize Monday on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” an a cappella vocal competition. The group earned $100,000 and a recording contract with Sony Music.
“Everything we’ve ever done has been so worth it,” lead singer Austin Brown said on TV after accepting the trophy. “Can we rub the beard one more time? It works.”
Then all five members rubbed singer Rob Lundquist’s bushy beard.
Having specialized in rearranged country songs during Season 4 of “The Sing-Off,” Home Free, dressed in suit coats and unmatching ties, reimagined Hunter Hayes’ hit “I Want Crazy.”
The judges didn’t exactly go crazy but they were very enthusiastic. “You’re letting your hair down,” observed judge Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. “You’ve been solid since Day 1. You guys did awesome tonight.”
Home Free was founded 13 years ago by brothers Adam and Chris Rupp after studying at Gustavus College. They recruited Lundquist from Brooklyn Park and later added Brown from Georgia and bass singer Tim Foust from Texas.
On Monday’s show, they collaborated with the judge Jewel on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” showing off their close jazz harmonies — a move that may have clinched the victory.
Home Free is the first Minnesota act to win a national singing competition since Linda Eder, now a Broadway star, triumphed on “Star Search” in 1987. Limited Warranty, a Minnesota pop band, took the $100,000 “Star Search” grand prize in 1985.
Home Free and the other groups from Season 4 of “The Sing-Off” will go on tour together, with a March 21 concert set for Mill City Nights in Minneapolis.