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Real Life Stories
By: Tee Deoy
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For some, he may not be your conventional drop-dead hunk. But he most definitely has some je ne sais quoi.

He is a rock star and triple Grammy Award winner, but when you ask him, he would say that his best achievement and most important job is being an attentive husband to his gorgeous supermodel wife Heidi Klum and father to their kids: Leni, six, Henry, five, Johan, three, and 11 month-old Lou.

In an inspiring career that has spanned more than two decades in the music industry, Seal has tucked under his belt three Grammy Awards and has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. In 1990, he came out with the hit single “Killer”, his collaborative effort with DJ techno producer Adam "Adamski" Tinley. His first official offering was his self-titled album Seal. This sold three million copies worldwide and spawned the classic single “Crazy”, written by Seal and Guy Sigsworth and produced by Trevor Horn. Rocker/indie artist Alanis Morissette did a cover of Seal’s “Crazy” for her 2005 album The Collection. The title — not the song — has gone on to garner successful singles for other artists. Who can forget the debut hit single “Crazy” from Gnarls Barkley? The song is a favourite of Seal’s. 

Following on from his 1994 album, Seal released another album which included the Top 40 hit “Prayer For The Dying”. The album’s international success rested on the hit single “Kiss from a Rose” which was included in the Batman Forever film soundtrack. The single resonated positively in the public consciousness internationally and to this day is still a favourite that is played on radio stations world over. It spent 45 weeks on the US charts. He recently said of the song: "I wrote ‘A Kiss from a Rose’ really early on, about 25 years ago, and I didn't know that would resonate with people like it did. I thought it was crap.” Spoken like a truly talented genius who’s never happy with his craft. Another song of his, “Lost My Faith”, was also featured in scenes for the movie Entrapment (1999) starring ex 007 actor Sean Connery and Swansea’s darling Catherine Zeta-Jones (a.k.a Mrs Michael Douglas).

 

Growing Up
All sorts of stories have been touted in the media about Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel’s — a.k.a. Seal — parentage. What is true is that he was born February 19th 1963 in Kilburn North West, London to a Nigerian mother and Brazilian father. Both his parents were students with part-time jobs and he was privately fostered with the Scoolings, a white family in Romford Essex England, along with four other foster siblings.

Aged four years, his mother reclaimed him from his foster parents and at this point she was divorced from his father. Unfortunately, the time spent in his mother’s care was short-lived (just two years) as she was allegedly deported back to Nigeria — and his father became his main primary caregiver. Relations with his father were allegedly volatile and abusive as he was resistant to the career path that his father wanted him to take. At the age of 15, he ran away from home and homed himself in squats or stayed with friends. What is truly remarkable is that he still managed to put himself through college to study architecture.

Seal’s first inkling that he was musically gifted was when he sang Johnny Lester Nash’s song “I Can See Clearly Now” at a school concert, at age 11.

He recalls, “My parents had never heard me sing before.” “There wasn't a great deal of communication in the house. There was this really cool teacher who I idolised — I certainly didn't idolise my father — and he always used to say, "You've got a really good voice". I would never really take his word for it, but he got me to sing on stage. I remember closing my eyes and singing, and at the end of it, everyone's clapping, and I opened my eyes and there was a look of disbelief on my parents' faces. And at that point I knew.”

His distinctive facial features were the result of his childhood struggle with Lupus, an auto-immune disease often characterized by ulcerative lesions that spread over the body.  Seal at a time was convinced that the scars under his eyes left by a skin ailment were a kind of omen of stardom. “I got really depressed about [the scars] at first, as you can understand,” he recalled. “Now I really like them.” The scars, he ultimately reasoned, would serve as a kind of insignia. And they definitely have — in an image-obsessed world of celebrity, his scarring has made his facial features more memorable.

 

The family man
Seal is definitely the family man. He wears a chain on his neck consisting of five gold discs that represent each member of his family: one for his wife and four symbolising their four kids. Speaking of the kids, three are from his union with Heidi, but he has formally adopted the eldest Leni, whose father is former Formula One team owner Flavio Briatore. One of our favourite quotes from an interview he gave to a UK magazine when asked about family life and his kids was: “I love it. Two boys and two girls — it couldn’t be more great. It’s pretty crazy but I really love it.  They keep you young. They wear you out as well, obviously, but they definitely keep you young. They are just amazing to be around.”

Seal’s cute little family started in 2004, when he proposed to supermodel Heidi Klum in an igloo in British Columbia, Canada. The two were wed on a beach in Mexico in early 2005. In September 2005, their first son Henry Günther Ademola Dashtu Samuel was born. In November 2006 their second son, Johan Riley Fyodor Taiwo Samuel, was born. In October 2009, the couple evened things up by having daughter Lou Sulola Samuel, a little baby sister for Leni. The artist gave a public statement to the press announcing the birth of the last addition to their brood. He said: “It’s difficult to imagine loving another child as much as you love your existing children, anyone who has a family will tell you this. Where will one find that extra love? If you love your existing children with all of your heart, how then can one possibly find more heart with which to love another? On Friday, Oct. 9, 2009, at 7:46 p.m., the answer to this question came in the form of our fourth child and second daughter. Lou Sulola Samuel was born, and from the moment she looked into both of our eyes, it was endless love at first sight. She is beautiful beyond words and we are happy that she chose us to watch her grow over the coming years.

Ask him about his endearingly beautiful supermodel wife and he waxes lyrical. Theirs is a union that many never saw succeeding, as Heidi was already pregnant with their daughter Leni, fathered by Flavio Briatore whom she had split from. Many cynics claimed that the relationship for him was a way of seeking publicity — why would he though? His profile was not waning. In the same token, many said of her that the fear of single parenthood drove her into his arms. Sources close to the couple knew that this was so far removed from the truth. They were and still are soul mates. When asked in New magazine what about his wife makes her “the one”, he says: “I am married and in love with my best friend. We go through everything together. We go through the same sh*t that other couples go through, we disagree and have very few low points but we have a lot of high points because we just realise how lucky we are to have found each other.” Seven years on, the couple still act like newlyweds and have even gone a step further by renewing their vows every year on their anniversary. In June 2010, the couple decided to spread the love through their upcoming TV show on Lifetime called Loves Divine, appropriately titled after his song of the same name. On the show they propose to help couples and those less fortunate to have enjoyed their weddings first time round and those with extraordinary lives a chance to renew their wedding vows

Neighbours and close with the Beckham’s — their kids are in the same school — the Samuels are in the right circles when it comes to surrounding one’s self with friends with great family values. He has this to say of the Beckhams “Despite what they do in their professional lives, they are always there for their kids.” Talking of kids, his entrepreneurial Mrs [Heidi] is also a big kid at heart — she just loves throwing fancy dress parties where she gets everyone to dress up. Her beauty, warmth, and nurturing personality is almost palpable when she is seen on screen, on the red carpet event, or on the runway. She is the girl that you want to be jealous of, but can’t help loving instead. A formidable entrepreneur in her own right — she is a model, actress, television host, business woman, fashion designer, television producer, artist, and occasional singer — Mrs Samuel shows divas that yes –you can have it all.

Back to Seal,in a recent quote from a UK publication is,he had this to say about marriage:“It’s not rocket science, it really isn’t. It’s work but it’s fun. It’s only hard work when you allow it to be so. Both of us have turned down huge money-making opportunities because family is more important. You’ve just got to prioritise, that’s all.  You have to do that as you only get one crack at this [marriage].”

 

Journey of a Soulful Discovery
During his youth he took various jobs far removed from his degree in Architecture, including working at McDonald’s, designing leather clothing, and electrical engineering, before going into music. His professional voyage into the business came about when, aged 23, an ex-girlfriend dragged him off to Tottenham Court Road in London to buy a bass guitar and drums after she heard him sing. He took up singing in clubs, and then joined an English funk band called Push that he toured with in Japan in the mid–’80s. Though this wasn’t a pivotal stage in his early career, it gave him a wider outlook on life and spiritual experiences that influenced his idealistic first album. After Japan, he made his way to Thailand, singing in a blues band, before leaving for India on his own. His break came through his collaboration with Adamski in 1990. The eclectic mix of rock, dance and his soulful vocals took the single “Killer” to No. 1 in the UK charts. Significantly, the attention of record label ZTT and veteran producerTrevor Horn were now on him. He signed with ZZT, but the cherry was his for the picking as record companies were knocking on his door.

With Horn, his first self-titled album Seal (1991) saw his soul, dance and house music background complemented and fused with Horn’s melodic and instrumental wizardry. This resulted in an album that produced the hit singles “Crazy” and a new version of “Killer”. The album sold millions worldwide.

Known for his one-of-a-kind baritone, husky soulful voice, born from some serious near-death experiences, Seal is as talented in classic song writing across different music genres as he is with emoting his songs with vocals. However, at the beginning, the price of fame was too great a price for the gentle giant. Overwhelmed by the fame, he suffered from panic attacks. He was aware of his newfound status, and wary of the untruthful and opportunistic characters around him. At the time, he said: “If you’re a sensitive person, like me, you quickly realise that not everybody’s intentions are genuine. And, yes, you have more people around you, lots more people around you, but your space becomes much smaller.” His success also changed him as a person during that period, however, he credits his friends for slowly bringing him back to earth and grounding his personality.

Today, aged 47, he and beautiful wife Heidi Klum have made LA their main residence. And they are lumbered with the A-list trappings of success — with homes in London and Mexico. What a hard life! Jealous, us? You bet. However, you couldn’t wish this for a more deserving couple.

Always a risk taker, in November 2008, Seal released the album Soul, comprised of 12 classic soul songs. Critics called it a volcanic eruption of true mastery and talent. He collaborated with David Foster on the album of classic hits - one of which includes Sam Cooke’s ballad “A Change Is Gonna Come”. With Seal’s unique signature touch, a new generation of fans will surely be inducted to true soul in its complete magnificence for an era past. On working with Seal on this album Foster said:“I’ve made a lot of records in my time, but I’ve never enjoyed the recording experience more than I have with Seal. I think he’s the only singer on the planet that could do this album, bringing something new and fresh to these classics, paying tremendous respect to their heritage, but, at the same time, owning them and making them uniquely “Seal”. He was born to sing these songs and all we got to do is hang on for what is going to be a‘killer’ ride.” And that it definitely was.

In 2009 he released a collection of his hits spanning his entire career in music. True diehard fans definitely need to get their mitts on this. The album includes a never-heard-before, new recording titled “I am Your Man”. His latest offering, the album titled Commitment, was released September 2010. We hope Seal doesn’t leave it too long before going into the studio again to create magic.

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