Free Union is a Charlottesville, Virginia-based collective led by Michael Coleman (vocals/rhythm guitar) and Rob Dunnenberger (drums), and features Carrie Coleman (vocals), Parker Hawkins (bass), and Tyler Hutcherson (keys). The band’s sound is not distillable, it’s ever-evolving music is rooted in soul and incorporates rhythm and blues, rock, and pop into its sound.
In its short history, Free Union has found quick momentum including a debut performance at the 2019 Lockn’ Music Festival, a feature on NPR Music’s Heavy Rotation: September Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing (2019), and a national appearance on the acclaimed WXPN National Public Radio program World Café (2020).
Free Union hasn’t been dormant throughout the elongated season of quarantine and the COVID-19 era. Over the past year, the band has maintained a Quarantunes Series, releasing live versions of original songs like “Good Day to Cry” and “It Gets Better,” alongside holiday tunes and spirited covers of current pop hits by the likes of Harry Styles and Billie Eilish. Free Union released a quarantine created and recorded double single entitled “Somethin’ + The Other Side” in January of 2021, each offering a glimmer of hope in the face of the harsh realities of white supremacy and deep-seated division displayed in 2020.
The history behind the collective’s name gives context to its message. Free Union, Virginia—originally named Nicksville after a free African American blacksmith—sought to unite people of all races at a time when the country was inherently divided. These principles of inclusivity are the underpinnings of this collective. Free Union brings people, musical styles, and ideas together to inspire a message of unity.