NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Christopher J. Essex is not from a musical family. Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the only person who had musical talent was his paternal grandfather, who was a performer in a piano bar. Though Essex never met him, he was born on his birthday and feels certain that is where his desire to be on stage comes from.
The people in his family were tall and athletic, so sports were the primary extracurricular activity for them.
And Essex’s mom being from Wisconsin, was into country western music/90s country.
“That’s what I was raised on,” he said.
Early on, Essex was drawn to musicals. He was in the choir at school and in church, but it was in third grade that he got to be in his first musical.
He even went to college to study fine arts and pursue singing/acting as a career path. On his way to Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, his family passed through Nashville.
His mother told him, “I just see you here doing country music.”
After college, he moved to New York City, where he began acting immediately.
The first time he ever held a guitar was when he tried out for Johnny Cash in the musical, “Million Dollar Quartet,” at Chicago’s Apollo Theater.
They liked Essex’s size and voice and asked him if he could play guitar.
Essex said, “I’m not the best.” He learned three cords before the next call back and got the part.
He added, “It was when I was touring with this show that I realized the missing piece of my life was being an artist on stage with a guitar in my hand and telling my own stories. Being an actor and in musicals was fun but I was tired of telling other people’s stories when I should be telling my own.”
In 2019, Essex moved to Nashville, where he began creating and performing his own music. However, his dreams got put on hold in March of 2020 when a tornado whipped through his neighborhood, destroying the rental home where Essex resided and leaving him homeless. Two weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Within three short months of moving to Nashville, Essex was left homeless and unemployed.
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to find a way to pay rent at a new place. I was pretty nervous,” he said.
But now he is glad for that time because it forced him to make a decision. He had to choose another path or really fight for his dream.
“I dug my heels in. I chose not to release music just because other people were. I tried to focus on who I was going to be as an artist. I started really listening to music and focusing on my writing, who I was writing with, and what I was writing about. Last year I began releasing that music,” he said.
And even though the theme of his debut single, “Swipe Right On Me” is about as contemporary as you can get, he delivers the tune with the energy of an old country western line dance.
He stated, “You have to write about what you know. I know about being single and being on dating apps. And I know that I love to make people smile and make them laugh.”
Besides being a country music artist, Essex uses his background in musical theater to teach line dance and two-step at the famed Nashville Palace. His buddy, who is a national line dancer, is creating a line dance to Essex’s original song, “My Kinda Place.” The catchy song will be one you will want to put on repeat as you two-step at a honky tonk or in your living room.
The artist gets a little more serious with the sentimental “Lie With Me” and his meaningful song “On The Inside” will have the single girls daydreaming about the country crooner.
In 2022, Essex was a contestant on Amazon Prime’s reality TV series, Cosmic Love, which follows four individuals as they attempt to find their perfect spouse via astrological matchmaking.
“I was never sold on the idea of being on a reality dating show. It’s not how I operate. I am private in my dating life. Having everybody watch was new to me. It didn’t quite end up being what they had prescribed to me ahead of time, but I did learn certain things about myself,” he reported.
The show spurred Essex’s newest release, “Time On You.” He told a girl he was dating, “This weekend I’m going to be busy, but I will be spending ‘time on you.’” It was the hook he needed to write the song.
“Time On You” is a romantic song that will appeal to the young and old alike. It is for anyone who is in love and wants to spend time with their person.
This song is sure to become a staple in the genre of country music love songs.
Essex is a multi-talented artist who gives credit to his mother for believing in him.
He said, “She made sure that I never stopped singing. When the opportunity came for me to be doing what I am supposed to be doing, it was there in front of me.”
Essex is one of my new favorite male country artists. And with a background in musical theater, he provides a unique bent to his original music, especially in his music videos.
The fact that he has the traditional Nashville sound while singing about current topics makes him an artist to keep an eye on. Essex is just getting started.
You can follow Essex on his website, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and all music streaming platforms.
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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blog, Instagram, and Twitter.