The now-famous local opens up about ‘The X Factor,’ growing up in Santa Cruz, life after addiction, and what’s next on the creative road ahead
Less than a year ago, then 28-year-old Santa Cruz native Chris Rene was collecting trash for a living and battling a drug and alcohol addiction. Today, exactly three weeks after taking third on the first season of FOX’s The X Factor, Rene is at the top of the iTunes charts, nearing a record deal, designing a fashion line, and just over 11 months sober. Motivated by fellow Santa Cruz musician James Durbin’s rise to the top on American Idol, the rapper/songwriter worked up the courage to audition for The X Factor back in September. It was there that Rene touched the heart of America with his original rap song “Young Homie,” and his inspiring story.