Ten years ago this month, Home Free won Season 4 of The Sing-Off on NBC. Looking back on it, they think they know why.

"It's crazy that no one had done that up until then, and as far as I know, I don't think anyone else is doing it now," says Tim Foust, the a capella group's bass.

  • Home Free is made up of Tim Foust, Austin Brown, Rob Lundquist, Adam Rupp and Adam Chance.
  • They've released 11 albums since winning the Sing-Off, including several Christmas albums.
  • Origins of the group go back to 2001.

"That" and "it" are references to the group's chosen sound: Country. The genre is so closely tied to instruments like pedal steel and fiddle that it scares off similar bands, but Home Free figured out that proper storytelling and vocal style can overcome that. Viewers agreed.

Florida Georgia Line ("Cruise"), Rascal Flatts ("Life Is a Highway") and Hunter Hayes ("I Want Crazy") were three country artists they brought to the seven-episode, two-week reality blitz. Their cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" lived long after the show. A version on YouTube has more than 43 million views, good enough to be their No. 1 video.

All of these songs — plus six more — are revisited for the new Home Free album. As Seen on TV dropped last month and features (for the first time) a recorded version of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman," as well as a collaboration with the Filharmonic, another band from Season 4.

"We've kept in touch," Foust says. "That was definitely was one of the best things to come out of that show was the life-long friendships. That one is overdue."

The country music industry was less than welcoming to the newcomers. Foust doesn't describe the reception as "cool" as much as he does confusion.

"Some of them are probably still not sure what to make of us," he jokes. "I think they probably thought we were a niche thing that would fizzle out by now."

Of the contemporary groups covered on As Seen on TV, only one (Zac Brown Band) is around today. Rascal Flatts shut it down before the COVID-19 pandemic, and FGL did shortly after. Hayes still records and performs, but is no longer on the record label he was when he cut "I Want Crazy."

Peers that matter believed. After the Sing-Off, the Oak Ridge Boys and then Kenny Rogers welcomed Home Free to the format, something Foust says gave them a huge boost. They were touring full-time before the show, so nothing really changed after, except that everything got bigger.

Last week, Home Free surprised fans by announcing that beginning in 2024, they'll tour less than in previous years. In fact, they indicate that the reduced schedule would be the new normal, which leaves plenty of questions to be answered about the pace at which they'll write and record new music.

Foust spoke with ToC before this news came and dropped no hint of a career beyond Home Free. In fact, he somewhat rejected the idea that winning a reality show launched them into a whirlwind career they weren't prepared for. If not for TV, he says, they figure they'd still be playing theaters, performing arts centers and cruise ships today.

Winning the show brought unimaginable exposure, acclaim and awards that opened up larger venues. Today it affords them a chance to be more selective about how they spend tomorrow. They call that "making it."

Top 20 Country Music Duos, Ranked!

The best country duos combine unbelievable talent, songwriting skills and proficiency as live entertainers. These 20 do that to varying degrees, but only one has been certified as Entertainer of the Year.

Find that duo at No. 1 but, but learn about many more from the 1960s, '70s, '80s, '90s and 2000s before you get there. This list of country music's top duos focuses on artists who broke as a duo, not solo artists who came together for an album or series of projects after enjoying commercial success. Contemporary artists are mixed with legends and Country Music Hall of Famers throughout this list. How do you feel about our Top 20?

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes