From hauling trash in the Santa Cruz dump to singing on the “The X Factor” stage on national television, contestant Chris Rene has made the final cut as one of the show’s top 12 singers.

“The X Factor” is a music competition televised across the country and in dozens of countries worldwide in search of newsinging talent. The show originally came from the United Kingdom and was created by Simon Cowell, best known in the United States as a former judge on “American Idol.” Fellow Santa Cruz local James Durbin had a similar journey to Rene on “American Idol” and made it as far as the top three.

Rene, 28, recently made it to the the top 12 out of thousands of contestants who auditioned across the country. He began his audition with an original piece titled “Young Homie,” which mentions his personal struggle with addiction, which persisted for 10 years: “Yeah, it’s been two months [and] three years now. Haven’t had a drink and I’m starting to see clear now, I’m putting all my fears down, I can hear the cheers now.”

Rene, who grew up in Santa Cruz and up until recently earned a living hauling trash, said on the show that he “couldn’t have asked for better parents and brothers and sisters.” Rene decided to audition on “The X Factor,” which served as an unexpected gateway to the spotlight for him.

“At auditions, Chris shared his struggle with addiction and how he was turning his life around for his son,” according to a statement released by the show. “We loved him already, but we loved him even more with his original song ‘Young Homie.’ Now, he’s still bringing the ‘truth’ to every performance.”

Rene said his past gives him drive to succeed and empower himself through singing.

“My ‘X Factor’ is triumph over struggles, at least for today,” Rene said on the show. “The passion I have and the experiences I’ve been through — I channel that emotion.”