If you haven’t heard of the worship duo Seth and Nirva chances are you are about to. Both Seth and Nirva have been performing in the music industry for over a decade and now the married couple is ready to shine bright with the release of their first major label record, “Never Alone.”
Both are established in their own right as solo artists and both have had quite a bit of success, even before deciding to come together and create the duo of Seth and Nirva. Seth has been a backing vocalist for some of the biggest names in Christian music including Kirk Franklin, Chris Tomlin, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans. Nirva has had and continues to have a wildly successful run as a backing vocalist in TobyMac’s Diverse City Band, whom she has been with for over a decade.
Without giving too much about their history away since we cover it in the interview below let me just say that this is a very exciting time for Seth and Nirva, as they just released their first major label record through Integrity.
I have known Seth for about 15 years, we went to college together, played basketball together, worked together and had a good friendship. When I heard him and Nirva were about to put out a new album I contacted them and asked if we could do a piece together. They accepted and we started the process of creating something a little more personal that everyone could enjoy. I didn’t just want to do some sort of news piece about the release of the new album. Instead, I wanted to get more of an inside look into their journey and how it has come about…not only for myself, but for anyone else who may be interested in how this has come to be.
Despite their super busy schedules I was able to get an interview to them and they were both very happy to answer the questions I had. Below you will get a more detailed inside look at the history and story of Seth and Nirva and how their journey together has brought them to this point. You will also get an inside look at the new album and what their process behind everything was. The sky is the limit for these two and the “Never Alone” album drop is just the beginning.
Seth and Nirva Interview
Jeremy: How did each of you get your start in music?
Nirva: I’ve been blessed to do music professionally for some years now. But I started out serving in church. I sang in the choir and on the worship team. My director at the time had ties to the music industry… He would often use us in the studio to sing behind major recording artist. From there I developed relationships with producers an artist in town who would take me on the road. That’s how I met tobyMac. I heard he was having auditions and I took a chance and went for it. He also took a chance on me because I hadn’t done much in the way of professional singing at the time. But thankfully it worked out, and I’ve been part of the Diverse City band for many years now.
Seth: I grew up in pre-American Idol days when the music industry seemed like a fantasy world in some distant realm—especially being raised in a small town in central Florida. I always felt a call to ministry and had an intense love for music, but I never thought I could make a living doing either of those. In fact, I was a math major in college looking at becoming an engineer when I first met someone that was a couple degrees away from the music industry. I made a demo with that person that got passed to Kirk Franklin, and suddenly after my Junior year, I found myself on the road traveling the world doing something I loved. It was during that season and some years after that God began to show me the assignment on my life for music ministry. And now many years later, I’m seeing those dreams become reality as I am getting to travel with my wife spreading the good news of the Kingdom through music.
Jeremy: How did Seth and Nirva meet?
Seth: Well, there is a bit of a discrepancy in our accounts, but we both agree that we first met at a Billy Graham crusade at Qualcomm Stadium a number of years ago, although Nirva doesn’t actually remember meeting me. I obviously made a big impression on her. She was singing background for tobyMac and I was singing for Kirk Franklin. We bumped into each other on the road from time to time after that, but it wasn’t until a mutual friend of ours hired us to do BGV’s that we got to know each other. A couple years (and rejections) later, she agreed to be my wife. And we’ve been happily married now for just under 10 years.
Jeremy: Who are your favorite artists? Who are you biggest influences, both in music and outside of music?
Nirva: I’ve been impacted by so many great artists over the years. Growing up I was enamored with Whitney Houston and Cece Winans. Later on I became a huge Lauryn Hill fan. I’ve always loved Brandy and I admire Jazmine Sullivan’s voice. I am also influenced by other styles of music as well. I love classical, particularly Claude Debussy, and “modern worship” is probably my favorite. Brooke Fraser, Christy Nockels, and Hillsong United top my playlist. I also like to splash in some hip-hop from time to time—Lecrae, Andy Mineo, and so many more that are doing such great work. Outside of music, I’d say that I owe much of what I am to Christian teachers like Beth Moore, Lisa Harper, and Dallas Willard, as well as my mentors and pastors who have poured so much into me over the years.
Seth: Man, Nirva’s stealing my people. I too am a huge fan of Lauryn, Brandy, and Jazmine as well as the rest of the folks she mentioned. I’d also add Boyz II Men and Brian Mcknight (I think 90’s R&B singers are still the best) as well as gospel greats like Smokie Norful, Commissioned, and J Moss just to name a few. I’d also overlap with her on the teachers. Beth Moore is the real deal. And Dallas Willard, the late professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, has hugely impacted our lives. He taught us what it means to be a thoughtful apprentice of Jesus, and helped us to see Jesus as the smartest person who ever walked the planet.
Jeremy: When were you two married and was there always a thought of doing records together or did that just happen after while?
Seth: No, it was a slow progression. A little while into our marriage we started getting calls to record background vocals together in the studio. We noticed that we blended well together, and we enjoyed coming up with parts and creating with each other. We also noticed that something special happened when we worked as a couple in ministry, and so, instead of traveling separately and doing music, we thought, why not join forces. It all started to coalesce about 5 years after we were married when we decided to record an EP as a duo group. From there Integrity Records called us and told us they wanted to sign us to a record deal, and now we are putting out our first full-length album with them.
Jeremy: You recorded another album before this one, what was that called and tell us a little about that? Good experience? Learning experience? How was it received?
Nirva: It is called “I Need You” and you can find it here: View and Buy “I Need You” on iTunes.
Seth and I had moved from Nashville to Lakeland, FL, and thought we were saying goodbye to the music industry. He had taken a job at a University, and I was going to stop traveling as well. During the course of the next two years though, a passion for music was stirred up in us again. We had some songs we had loosely worked on over the years, so we decided to take them, add a couple more, and put them together in an EP. Although it was our first time working together on a project, it was a great experience overall and we learned a lot. And thankfully it was received well—I think. The feedback we got from people who purchased the album, as well as the official reviews done by industry writers was really positive. As far as record sales go, it exceeded our expectations. But the biggest positive that came out of it was, as Seth said earlier, that it was a key step to getting the record deal with Integrity.
Jeremy: Your new project is titled “Never Alone.” How long have you two been working on it and what type of journey that was for you.
Seth & Nirva: From the time we started writing until being done with the mastering, it took about 9 months. This might seem a little crazy, but with all the schedule juggling we had to do between the label, producers, writers, and us, we were actually lucky to get it done in this amount of time. When we started, it was a little intimidating working with such experienced and successful writers and producers. But when you surround yourself with greatness, you can’t help but grow. As we went on, we started to feel more confident. We discovered who we were as artists, and what message we were really trying to communicate. At times it was exhilarating, and at times it was really stressful and looked like we might not ever finish the album. But overall, it was a very positive experience, and the length of time it took to finish ended up making “Never Alone” much better than it would have been if we’d finished it when we had originally planned to.
Jeremy: The lead track on the new album is titled “Brother.” Was it an easy choice to make this the lead track off the album and if so… why?
Seth: Actually, picking the focus songs for this project was a bit tricky. I think that all the songs on the album came out really well, and there is such a diversity of style among them that it was hard to know which way to go. Some of the songs are more geared toward congregational singing in church. Some are more gospel and some are more CCM radio. At the end of the day though, we decided that the message of “Brother” is something the world really needs to hear right now. Everywhere you look there is so much division and hatred. In the realm of politics, religion, and public policy, there is so much anger and even violence being perpetrated toward others. We are even seeing race issues come to a head like we haven’t in years. As an interracial couple we’ve experienced our share of hurtful comments and stares, but to see it to the scale it has grown lately is disheartening to say the least. It is in the midst of this cultural turmoil that Jesus’ command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us breaks through our cultural norms and natural inclinations. This song is an expression of that command. It reminds us to see even our enemies as first of all made in God’s image, and therefore worthy of respect even if we strongly disagree with them.
Jeremy: We hear you are shooting a music video for “Brother.” Is this the first music video you have shot and how was that experience? When will it be available and where?
Nirva: Well, yes, we are putting out a video for “Brother”, but we won’t actually be in it. Something about the song feels bigger than us, and so we thought it would be more powerful as a concept video containing footage from real events that have taken place. It will hopefully be out by June, and we will release it on YouTube and all our social media outlets (@sethandnirva).
Jeremy: What’s next for Seth and Nirva? Both individually and together? Other projects on the horizon? What will be happening after “Never Alone” is released and it get’s going?
Seth: We are in the UK right now getting ready to do a festival the day after “Never Alone” releases. Then we will head back to the US and get ready for some radio promotion dates, as well as concerts we will be doing at various locations throughout the summer (you can find these dates on our website sethandnirva.com). We hope to be touring in the fall and spring.
A Closer Look at “Never Alone,” the Major Label Debut from Seth and Nirva
Do not fear for I am with you, Do not look anxiously about for I am your God
I will strengthen you; I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
As volunteers ministering to young adults in Tampa, Florida, Seth and Nirva Ready became all too aware of the powerlessness and fear felt among their people. “Whether in our educational institutions, the public square or in social media, they are feeling misrepresented and bullied out of speaking about and living out their core beliefs,” Nirva explains.
As she and Seth began to write songs for what would be their next record, this growing fear could not be ignored. “We felt strongly that the Lord wanted to remind us that He has not been dethroned. He is still Sovereign over history, and He has placed us here for such a time as this,” she adds. “We can take courage and stand against the tide because God has not and will not abandon us.”
This is the pulse of Never Alone, Seth and Nirva’s faith-empowering debut full-length album set for release on Integrity Music. Produced by Bryan Fowler (TobyMac, Aaron Shust) and featuring songwriting collaborations with Michael Farren (“Let It Rain”), Mia Fieldes (“Savior King”), Jacob Sooter, Israel Houghton, TobyMac, Victor Oquendo and BJ Putnam, Never Alone picks up where their 2014 EP I Need You left off.
Sonically, Never Alone explores the veteran vocalists’ unique styles. From the solid R&B groove of “Pour It Out” to the modern pop anthem of “Unconditional,” to the ballads and calls to worship on the album, Seth and Nirva carve out a distinctive blend all their own. “Our sound—much like us as a couple and as individuals—doesn’t fit any traditional genre category very well,” says Seth.“It’s a bit more diverse stylistically than a lot of artists and difficult to categorize, but this is who we are.”
One of the most personal tracks on the record is “Brother,” written by Seth and Nirva’s labelmates, The Brilliance. As a bi-racial couple, Seth and Nirva have encountered cultural stigma more than most Christian artists. Only in encountering Jesus, in the study of Scripture, they say, can one begin to understand the love and forgiveness required to heal the great racial divide.
Brother’ hit us really hard,” Seth admits. “Can we honestly sing those lyrics? It’s such a beautiful a vision of what we want to be, directly rooted in Jesus’ teaching. …Hopefully, this song becomes an entry point for more discussion.” After all, he adds, “The kingdom of God, in all its diversity, is the biggest movement on Earth.
In these, as in all the songs on Never Alone, Seth and Nirva drive home the eternal truth that God is present, on the move and that as believers, we are part of God’s story as He is part of ours. What theologian Dallas Willard calls ‘playing to an Audience of One,’ where He becomes our safe place, a refuge from lesser things, a place wherein our reverence for Him and dependence on Him becomes wisdom by which He empowers us to become all we are created to be.
Go listen to and get your copy of “Never Alone” by Seth and Nirva. Available now on iTunes.