The grandson of Leon René (songwriter of early R&B songs "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano," "Rockin' Robin," and "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman," among others) and son of Googie Rene (a recording artist who assisted Leon with the operation of the Class label), Chris Rene spent his teenage years in California as a guitarist and vocalist in Diversion.
The band released an independent album in 2000 but split a few years later, before it was able to complete a follow-up. Rene went the solo route and released Soul'd Out, featuring a sound that mixed contemporary rock, R&B, and rap, in 2009. As a contestant on the United States' first season of The X Factor, Rene -- by then a waste collector who had just completed a 30-day program for overcoming drug and alcohol dependencies -- auditioned with his own "Young Homie" and worked his way through the competition by performing songs by Marvin Gaye, the Police, Bob Marley, and Alicia Keys. He made it to the final but finished third. The singer subsequently signed a recording contract with Simon Cowell's Syco label (through Epic) and issued "Young Homie" (produced by J.R. Rotem) in March 2012. The song fell just shy of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and preceded his second solo album, scheduled for release later that year. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi