A Christian music love story
Seth and Nirva Ready talk about their spiritual and musical growth since saying ‘I do’
Seth and Nirva Ready, known in the music world as simply Seth & Nirva, have been married for 10 years and just released their debut album. I talked to them at the International Christian Retail Show in Cincinnati about their experiences as a couple and a musical duo.
How did you get together?
NIRVA READY: We met some years ago in San Diego at a Billy Graham crusade. He was singing background for Kirk Franklin, and I was singing with Toby Mac. A mutual friend introduced us, and that day I watched Seth’s entire concert. It was great. … We started out background singing. That’s how we met and got married.
When did you realize that your voices were compatible?
SETH READY: We had come from different musical backgrounds. I think we just assumed we would continue to do that. I was even doing solo stuff. She would occasionally come out and do some background for me. … People started hiring us in Nashville to do background vocals for records. … We were like, “Our voices actually, we are together.” Then we started doing ministry together.
Nirva, you went to Fisk University, a historically black university, and were part of the premier vocal team there.
NR: It’s called The Fisk Jubilee Singers. It was an honor to be a part. The group sings a cappella and Negro spirituals. We got to travel the country and sing these songs in cathedrals, in churches. It would always be a blessing and such a rich history. That was awesome.
How did that affect your spiritual journey?
NR: Singing with the Jubilee Singers was an amazing experience because Negro spirituals are slave songs. These are songs that got the slaves through that hard time of harsh oppression. They would sing songs like “Steal Away,” “My Home is Over Jordan,” “Precious Lord, Take My hand,” “I’ve Got a Crown in That Kingdom.” These lyrics, you sing them and they have a life to them and they do work on your soul. They remind you that this world isn’t all there is. I grew up in a home that was not—we weren’t very Christian. We were Christian when we went to church, and that was about it. I got born again in college, singing in these choirs.
In the past 10 years, being married to Seth, Seth added more depth to my discipleship and asking me, what do I believe and why? I would just believe things and watch Christian television all day and just accept everything—which is not bad. But Seth helped me to understand. … There’s been a lot of depth and understanding brought into my life through being married.
Seth, you’re working on a master’s degree in religion at Biola University, right? Why did you decide to do that?
SR: Growing up in church, I loved the Lord early on. I really struggled with doubt in college and came very close to losing my faith. Since then, I’ve had a lot of close friends, family, people that have walked away. … For many of them, part of it at least was the intellectual struggle and everything that goes along with that. I think God really used these people to pull me off the edge. Once I got linked up at Biola, it gave me a good covering in a sense. Then I not only began to survive but I began to thrive in my walk with God.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about race relations in this country. When the two of you are talking about these things, what do you say to each other?
SR: Nirva is from Chicago, she’s from an inner city area. … A lot of times, she’ll help me understand certain psychological features that enter in. I try to be as objective as possible and see things from that standpoint. I always like to take into account, what is the psychology that’s going on here, and how do we come into these scenarios and transcend the bombs that are going off from both sides, and meet people where they are and walk them into truth? Because there is stuff on all sides that’s not right a lot of times. I think we have really interesting conversations with my parents, too, because my parents are from the South. It’s just a completely different mentality, different culture. They love Nirva so much. We really get into the fun conversations with them.
NR: I feel like at times our conversations have been very real, very honest, and a crashing of cultural views at times. At the end of the day, like Seth said, we try to transcend culture with kingdom when needed. I grew up in the inner city of Chicago. I, too, am challenged by not being culturally biased. That’s when I dig in God’s truth and His Word that encourages me and gives me more understanding and more strength to say, “We’ve talked about this, what is the answer here to help the situation?”
Listen to Warren Cole Smith’s full conversation with Seth and Nirva Ready on the Aug. 12, 2016 episode of Listening In.
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