Free Nationals

Formed in the late 2000s in Los Angeles, California, Free Nationals is an R&B band best known for their work with Anderson.Paak and Mac Miller. Originally founded by guitarist Jose Rios and keyboardist Ron Avant after meeting at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California, where they studied alongside Anderson.Paak. The duo was soon joined by bassist Kelsey Gonzales and drummer Callum Connor and they named themselves Free Nationals. The band often serves as Anderson.Paak’s backing band, appearing with him on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in August 2016. The video of the performance is the most viewed in the series and brought worldwide attention to the band. Free Nationals released their first single, “Beauty & Essex” (featuring Daniel Caesar and Unknown Mortal Orchestra) in 2018. Their next single, “Time” (featuring Mac Miller and Kali Uchis), was released in 2019 and earned the band additional attention since it was the first posthumous release featuring Mac Miller, who died the previous year. Free Nationals released three additional singles – “On Sight”, “Eternal Light”, and “Shibuya” – in 2019 before releasing their self-titled debut album at the end of the year. Free Nationals was nominated for Best Progressive R&B Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2021.

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