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Charles “Chip” Esten is an American actor, singer, and songwriter. Esten is best known for his roles as Deacon Claybourne on CMT’s NASHVILLE and as Ward Cameron on NETFLIX’s OUTER BANKS.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Charles “Chip” Esten was raised in Alexandria, VA and attended T.C. Williams High School (made famous in the film “Remember the Titans.”) He then attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where he graduated with a degree in economics and met his wife, Patty. While in Williamsburg, he was lead singer/songwriter in a popular local band.
Esten made his theatrical debut in London when he portrayed Buddy Holly, singing, acting and playing guitar in the hit West End musical “Buddy.” In that role he was honored to perform for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and eventually President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush at The White House. He was also very honored to perform with Jerry Allison and Joe B. Mauldin, Buddy’s original hitmaking bandmates, the Crickets.
It was during his run as Buddy that Esten first appeared on the original British version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” with Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops. When “Whose Line” came to ABC, he became a recurring cast member and frequent song improvisor. Since then he has appeared on Drew Carey’s Improvaganza and toured frequently, performing live improv shows with Stiles, Proops and Jeff B. Davis.
Esten’s many early television credits include recurring roles on “Big Love,” “Enlightened,” “The Office” and “ER.” Besides being the father on Disney Channel’s “Jessie,” he has been a Klingon on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” a secretary on “Murphy Brown” and Kelly Bundy’s fiance on the series finale of “Married with Children.” His film credits include “Swing Vote,” “Thirteen Days,” “61*” and “The Postman.”
Esten has been honored to perform across the US, UK, and Germany for the past several years, including the Grand Ole Opry, the historic Ryman auditorium and the Royal Albert Hall. In addition, he has performed at festivals including Stagecoach, the CMAs, Route 91, C2C, and CMC. He looks forward to resuming touring this summer.
His most recent single “Sweet Summer Saturday Night” was released in August 2020. He continues to write and record music with over 9.5 million streams to date, earning a Guinness World Record in 2017 for releasing 54 original songs (available on iTunes, and on Spotify) once a week, for 54 consecutive weeks.
Charles is an active Musicians On Call board member and volunteer, regularly performing for patients and caregivers in hospitals, hospice centers, and VA facilities. With live performances being mostly cancelled in 2020, the singer-songwriter, actor and performer has instead performed a regular online Quarantine Live Stream concert to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where he has served as an honorary spokesperson for the past 8 years.