Seal emerged from England's house music scene in the early '90s to become the most popular British soul vocalist of the decade. Although his earliest material still showed signs of acid house, by the mid-'90s he had created a distinctive fusion of soul, folk, pop, dance, and rock that brought him success on both sides of the Atlantic.
The son of Nigerian and Brazilian parents, Seal was raised in England. After graduating with an architectural degree, he took various jobs around London, including electrical engineering and designing leather clothing. After a while, he began singing in local clubs and bars. He joined an English funk band called Push, touring Japan with the band in the mid-'80s. When he was in Asia, he joined a Thailand-based blues band. After a short time with that group, he traveled throughout India on his own.
Upon returning to England, Seal met Adamski, a house and techno producer who had yet to make much of an impression within the U.K. Seal provided the lyrics and vocals for Adamski's "Killer," which became a number one hit in 1990. After "Killer" became a hit, Seal signed a solo record contract. He recorded his eponymous debut album with Trevor Horn, who had previously worked with ABC, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and the Buggles. The first single pulled from the album, "Crazy," became a number 15 hit in the U.K. and reached number seven in America upon its release in 1991. Seal was also a success, reaching number 24 in America and selling over three million copies around the world.
After the success of his debut, Seal took three years to complete his second album. In between the two records, he appeared on the Jimi Hendrix tribute album Stone Free, singing on Jeff Beck's version of "Manic Depression." In the summer of 1994, he released his second album, which was also titled Seal. Preceded by the American Top 40 hit "Prayer for the Dying," the album did well upon its release, peaking at number 20 and selling a million copies by the spring of 1995, but it didn't really take off until a year after its release, when "Kiss from a Rose" was featured on the soundtrack to Batman Forever. "Kiss from a Rose" became a number one pop single in America and spent a total of 12 weeks at the top of the adult contemporary charts; the single spent a total of 45 weeks on the adult contemporary charts.
The success of "Kiss from a Rose" sent its parent album, Seal, into multi-platinum status; two years after its original release, the album had sold over four million copies in the U.S. alone. Human Being hit the shelves in 1998, with Seal IV following five years later. The career-spanning Best: 1991-2004 appeared in October 2004 with the live CD/DVD combo Live in Paris following a year later. In 2007, Seal returned with the studio full-length System, which featured a duet with his wife, Heidi Klum, whom he married in 2005. His next record, 2008's Soul, was a switch, featuring covers of classic soul standards. The album was produced by David Foster, who would return for the 2010 release Seal 6: Commitment. Foster was on board again as producer for 2011’s Soul 2, along with Trevor Horn, who also returned to co-produce this second volume of soul covers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine