Toby Fournier reports on the Nashville-based husband-and-wife team SETH & NIRVA
Cross Rhythms listeners will be familiar with Nashville duo Seth & Nirva since CR playlisted their single "Standing In The Need Of Prayer", taken from their March 2020 released album 'One Voice'. Produced by UK-based songwriter/producer Jimmy James and the duo's Seth Ready, 'One Voice' features 13 tracks of music interspersed with spoken word vignettes and features guest appearances from Newsboys' Michael Tait as well as Byron 'Mr Talkbox' Chambers and Dr Tony Evans, among others. Seth and Nirva have both travelled some distance on their musical and spiritual journeys since they were back-up singers for artists like Kirk Franklin and TobyMac. Romance blossomed and in 2013, the two began to write and record together. Their first album, 'Never Alone' for Integrity Music, featured collaborations with Michael Farron, Mia Fields, Israel Houghton and TobyMac and followed their debut release, the EP 'I Need You'.
Marriage is a wonderful thing but can be tested when a couple work together professionally. Thankfully, the union of these two talented people is standing up well. As Seth told reel-gospel.com back in January 2014: "It's been a really enjoyable process for us. We're both kinda laid back, so for the most part it's been more pleasure than pain. Although there's a couple moments where I probably get on Nirva's nerves because I'm a little OCD at times. And she's more the feeler, I'm more the detail-oriented person. So there are times when we have to definitely work on relationship features [laughs] during the recording process. But overall man, it's been a huge blessing to us to finally do stuff together since we spend so much time doing it separately."
As previously mentioned, both Seth and Nirva despite their relative youth can be considered veterans of the Christian and gospel music scenes. Nirva hails from Chicago and is of Haitian extraction and has spent over a decade as a singer and dancer with TobyMac's Diverse City Band. Of this period of her life, Nirva told New Release Today: "It means a lot to be a part of such a huge team that influences so many through the art of music for the Kingdom of God. I've learned so much musically as well as spiritually and I'm humbled to share the stage with one of the most popular Christian artists in the field. It far exceeds anything I could have dreamed." Seth grew up in Florida and developed a passion for gospel music that led to hours of singing practise alone in his room, which led, via college, to an opportunity to sing with gospel superstar Kirk Franklin. This in turn led to gigs with Chris Tomlin and CeCe Winans. The couple first met at a Billy Graham Crusade. As Seth told New Release Today: "Nirva doesn't remember the first two times we met, so I obviously made a big impression!"
As a bi-racial couple, Seth & Nirva appreciate keenly the blight of racism. 'One Voice' contains a spoken word extract from pastor, broadcaster and author Dr Tony Evans. On "Kingdom Over Culture" he said, "Black is only beautiful when it's biblical, and white is only right when it agrees with Holy writ." As Seth told the Hallels website in January 2020: "As things continue to intensify in our increasingly anti-Christian culture, we in the Church must understand where the real battle lies. We must stand together as one and proclaim the truth of God in love. This album is meant to call us back to a unity that is founded in Christ and in biblical principles, rather than in the latest waves of political correctness." Nirva told A Step Forward: "In a time when our culture is desperately searching for an answer to the divisions we are experiencing, we hope to point people in the only direction where a real solution can be found - the way of Christ. The only way forward is by going back and recovering our biblical foundations, which is what we want to communicate through this album."
The track "Mercy" from 'One Voice' addresses the sense of entitlement to God's blessings and the rewards that brings that a lot of people have. The couple told The Christian Post: "There's definitely a tendency toward entitlement, and we have also largely lost the concept of the holiness of God. Many are not even aware how far we have fallen short of the glory of God collectively and individually. So one aspect of this song does have to do with repentance. There's an old prayer called the 'Jesus prayer' that many have used through the ages that basically says, 'Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' This informs the song as well as some of the Psalms where the writer is crying out for God's mercy for everything from forgiveness, to healing, financial help, perseverance and justice. There are a variety of reasons to seek God for his mercy and that's what we tried to capture in this song."
'One Voice' also contains an exploration of apologetics. Seth explained, "The term apologetics does not mean saying you're sorry for your faith, as some folks might think. Apologetics has actually served as a lifeline for me in my faith journey. It is the art and science of making a rational case for the truth of Christianity. It comes from the Greek word 'apologia' which basically means a defence, such as in a court case. This word is used in 1 Peter 3:15, which states, 'but honour the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defence [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.' I like how the late philosopher and theologian Dallas Willard once defined apologetics as 'the use of reason in submission to the Holy Spirit to lift doubts off of the honest inquirer.'"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.