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Intersection of Life and Faith

Latin Lovebirds

  • Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 12 May
Latin Lovebirds
At risk of sounding stereotypical, it seemed only natural that Jaci Velasquez and Salvador's Nic Gonzalez would end up marrying and starting a family together. Not only are both Christians and Latinos, but they're also among the biggest proponents of their individual music styles—she in the realm of Christian pop, he the frontman of Christian music's premier Latin pop/rock band. But the relationship was not a smooth one, initially. The two dated several years ago, only to break up and go their separate ways—Velasquez got into what she now calls an "accidental" first marriage while Gonzalez kept busy focusing on touring. In 2006, the pair reconnected and, picking up right where they left off all those years ago, tied the knot in a small wedding in the groom's hometown of Austin, Texas. Today, the couple resides in Nashville, celebrating a trio of recent projects: the release of their respective albums—Velasquez's Love Out Loud (A'postrophe) and Salvador's Aware (Word)—as well as the birth of their first baby boy, Zealand David. The young Latin lovers talked to Christian Music Today about their new season in life together and what effect it's had on their creativity.What is it like doing the music thing now that you're married and have a child? Is it a difficult adjustment?Jaci Velasquez It's been different—a lot more juggling and prioritizing. I've learned that I can't do everything; I can only do the things that are really, really important. My priorities are different than they used to be. Between being a wife and mom, that's my priority over everything. I just try to do a little bit, but focus on what's most important.Nic Gonzalez Giving credit where credit is due, God is our scheduler and has a really good idea of what's going to happen before we do. And that makes things a lot easier because he'll start to put things into motion that I wouldn't expect or have any idea about. The Salvador schedule started slowing down because we didn't want to get to the point where we played so much that one day I'd walk away from it. My management company has always asked me, "Nic, how are you feeling?" So after getting married, all the guys understood that it'll be a little less work, but it's actually become more work since they now play for Jaci as well.Nic, you've grown accustomed to being a road dog along with your band members. How did marriage change that touring dynamic and the overall music on your new album, Aware?Gonzalez The impact of marriage was an amazing thing for me, as well the impact of my wife being pregnant during the writing of [Salvador's] record. Personally, I found I had become a little less interested in giving God thanks for the everyday things, like my health, the health of my wife, and the fact that we had food to eat. I kind of took those things for granted for a while. I was so used to working hard, and by the labor of your own hands you feel like you can accomplish anything.I don't know if it's the blood or just something in me that says I can make things happen; I just have to work hard at it to do it. But at the same time, God has allotted these things for me. God has allowed me to have these things. So I realized I don't want to be ungrateful. Instead, I wanted to be the guy that says, "You know what, God? I'm going to take a step back and write songs that honor You and tell You I'm glad where I am."Jaci, you've been at the top of the charts for a long time and a favorite in Christian pop. Have the aspirations changed for you now that you're a mother?Velasquez My career, my ministry is all important, though I no longer find my identity in my music anymore. My identity is now in my relationship with God and my two boys. That's what I love the most, though I still love making music. And Zealand loves me making music—[I could tell when] he was in my tummy making the [latest] record. He would wake up in my stomach, and to soothe him, I would have to sing. He would also get really upset if someone was singing off key on the TV or something. So I'd sing to him and it would soothe him and he'd listen to me. Now he's still the same way—when his mommy or his daddy sing, it soothes him. It's really sweet.It made for a different experience making a record, putting things into perspective. It used to be that I would remember what was going on in my life by the record that I was doing at the time. The reality of it was [my life] was only based around that. Making music is a big part of my life, but it's just not my life.Nic, you're a lifelong Austin boy. What was it like making the move to Nashville?Gonzalez I don't want to speak ill of Nashville because it's a good city, but it's not Austin. My wife lives here, and I love my wife, so that made it easy. It was easier for us because we both have careers here and she just happens to have a couple of things going on a little bit more than I do. I was able to live in Austin to hide away from all of it, but Jaci's face is a little more identified with this area. She works more out of here, so it only made sense [to make the move].It's one of the things we do for love.Gonzalez Absolutely, without a doubt. Good call!Velasquez It was tough for him, and sometimes he still misses it. But he was so good and so sweet to me. He knew I lived away from my mom before when I lived in California for a couple of years, and then in England for a year. Having lived away from her before, I didn't want to live away from her againGonzalez My mom and dad let me go. Just like any other [parent], you send your son off and he goes out and he does what he does. [In Jaci's case], I think being a daughter is a little different, so it is nice that her family wants to protect her a little bit more and be around her. I appreciate that about them.Velasquez I knew that Nic and I would probably have children. I always pictured having children with Nic, even back in the day when we dated a long time ago. I guess because he was Hispanic—I knew I'd always end up with a Hispanic guy. I wish I would've taken my own advice. (laughs) So I wanted to have my kids around their grandma.Jaci, were there any concessions you had to make during or before the move?Velasquez He wanted to have a say in the church that we went to. I actually loved the church that I went to before Nic and I even started dating. None of my family went there—it was just me—so nobody was forcing me to go to church. It was just something that I chose for myself. So when we got married, [Nic] said, "Your church is great, but I want to choose our church." And at first, me being the kind of girl I am, I was like, "No, this is the church I go to. You can't come in and start changing things!" But he said, "In order for me to move to Nashville, I want to choose our church."We now actually go to the church that my mother and my stepdad go to. For him, church was always about family, and family always went to the same church. He just wanted to go to the same church that grandma and grandpa went, so that, if Nic and I were gone, Zealand stayed with grandma and there would be some consistency. He knew that our son would be fed the Word of God.You two dated for several months many years ago, but nothing really happened. How come things didn't work out at that time?Velasquez We dated for like eight months. I broke up with him because I wasn't really mature enough to handle a good, healthy relationship. So I broke up with him. He was a little too reserved, and I was a little too "not reserved." We both had to mature and kind of meet in the middle.Gonzalez We were both pretty young, and I think that we were both still in a very busy state of mind. I didn't see it as something that was going to be the correct time of my life. I was 23 years old and I realized at that point that I was only just getting going. I don't think that it's an amount of money that you need to have in order to be married. But I do believe there's a preparedness that needs to be in your life, and I simply wasn't there. Even though she may have thought that we were there at that point, I knew that we weren't.And Jaci Velasquez or not, I wasn't going to allow someone to pressure me into that situation. I wasn't going to be pressured by outside people, only to set myself up for failure. It just wasn't God's timing because, as I would pray, I never had peace about being married at that time. And you know what? For all that it's worth in her life and the lessons she's learned over time, she had to do those things. For me, I'm glad that in some ways, I avoided some of my own pain by being patient and waiting on God.Jaci, how did your first marriage change the way you view things now?Velasquez Having married at 23 only to break up a year later, I like to say that I accidentally got married and intentionally got divorced. It was very difficult, that whole experience, from the day I got married to the day it ended. I don't wish it upon anyone, but the truth is, if it means that I have to go through all that over again to get to the point where I am now—to find this peace and this self-awareness of who I am through Jesus, to find that deep love in Christ—if I had to go through that all over again to get here, then I would.When I moved overseas, everybody knew I was running away from life—from what people were saying about me at that time [after my divorce]. I went to England to learn about myself, and I really did. But honestly, I missed being near my mom, so I came back to Nashville, went through some counseling, bough a little condo downtown, started developing friends again, and began a healthier lifestyle.For me, marrying Nic changed my life because when I married before, I was never married to a man who really feared God—who had a relationship with God. And I don't think I ever realized how much I wanted and needed that [in a relationship]. Because Nic really fears and loves God so much, it means he loves me much more than I could ever even understand. So I highly recommend marriage to the right person!How did you and Nic reconnect?Velasquez I was in Florida and got this phone call with a 512 number, [Austin's area code]. Well, I only know one person with a 512 area code, and that's Nic. So I picked it up, and my defenses went up right away because Nic and I were mean to each other when we were on tour together and after we broke up. But I think we also secretly loved each other and never really got over each other. You know that thin line between love and hate?So he called me and offered to take me out to dinner next time he was in Nashville. At first I wasn't into it because I'd just been through so much, and I just didn't want to go through anything like that again—I was not doing the guy thing, happy where I was as a person on my own. I didn't need a guy to come and mess that up. But he came to Nashville about a week later, and we went out. We went out a few more times over the course of three weeks, and then something happened on like the fourth visit—I think I told him then that I loved him. It was kind of accidental but intentional. One thing led to another, we got married, and the rest is history.Was it a natural reconnection for you after all those years apart? Or was there any weirdness initially?Gonzalez It was natural. She obviously liked me back, so that was cool. I think that we were both finally ready, and ready for a family. After we got married, it was three months later when we found out we were going to have a baby. We got pregnant and I was like, "Alright!" I was ready for it. I love my son and I love where I am. I'm where I want to be. I'm 30 years old, I'm a daddy, and I'm happy. I'm ready to start growing.Having come from a conservative Christian background, Nic, was it ever difficult for you to take Jaci in and help her heal after all she'd been through?Gonzalez I've lived my life with a lot of amazing grace that's been given to me. People have given me the benefit of the doubt my whole life. And I realized that in my lifetime, if I can't extend that same grace to someone—to people around me, my peers, and now my wife—then I would consider that to be hypocrisy at its best. I realized that I didn't love Jaci for her career, or for her past. And I also didn't want to be the person to sit around and go, "Oh, that person is not qualified for me." Who am I to say? I'm not sinless. I've made mistakes.All I knew was, I really liked being around Jaci. I was in love with her and she's become my best friend. Regardless of what happened, that was yesterday; that's not important to me. I believe that I'm strong enough in my own faith and strong enough as a husband to say that it's all OK. And if other people are unforgiving, that's not a problem. Because of the grace that I'm extended, I know that we're both going to be OK.You can read up more on the couple's artistry by visiting our artist pages for Jaci Velasquez and Salvador, and be sure to check out our reviews of their latest recordings, Love Out Loud and Aware. Visit Christianbook.com to listen to song clips and purchase their music© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.