"Up in the Air" Singer's Lucky Break

Kevin Renick's song, "Up in the Air," was used in the movie of the same name.
Kevin Renick's song, "Up in the Air," was used in the movie of the same name.

If you tried to run Kevin Renick'sstory by a movie studio, they'd reject it. It might be too hokey, even for them.

Renick is an aspiring singer-songwriter in St. Louis. As CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports, when the recession downsized Renick out of his day job with a marketing firm, he started to struggle.

"It was very, very brutal. I had major bills that I could not pay," Renick said.

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He'd written a melancholy song that reflected his predicament called, "Up in the Air." Last February, when he heard that Hollywood director Jason Reitmanwas in town shooting a new movie called, "Up in the Air," he laid down a track of his song on a 30-year-old cassette deck.

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Renick didn't stop until he put the cassette into Reitman's hands. When he saw that Reitman was speaking at a local college, Renick showed up and took his shot.

"I felt the envelope and I said, 'is this a cassette tape?'" Reitman said. "And he said 'yeah' and I said 'I don't even know where to listen to this.' I had to find a car with a cassette deck."

Renick figured that the director wrote him off. Then, an email popped up six months later with the news: Reitman loved the song, and used it in the credits for the movie. The same take that Renick laid down on cassette, including his introduction.

"This isn't some kid with a guitar," Reitman said. "This is a man. You hear his voice and he starts to talk and you hear ..."

"You hear pain," Axelrod asked.

"Yeah," Reitman replied.

The movie has turned out to be one of the year's hottest, with best picture and best director Golden Globe nominations, and Oscar buzz.

Reitman just shakes his head at Renick's story.

"He's unemployed, he's also entitled the thing "Up in the Air," Axelrod said. "What are the odds of that?"

"I don't quite know what to make of that," Reitman replied.

This Christmas, Renick has quite an unexpected stocking stuffer for his friends and family. His song's on the movie soundtrack. His musical heroes, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young are also on the soundtrack.

"I'm just on this ride that I don't know where it's going to go," Renick said. "I'm a little dizzy but, it's amazing. It's really amazing."

If he's not pricing homes in Beverly Hills, just yet, his future looks a lot brighter than it did five months ago.

An the only thing up in the air for Kevin Renick now is how much he'll make from royalties.

  • Jim Axelrod
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    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning" and other CBS News broadcasts.