Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Sealhenri Samuels, 19 Feb. '63, Paddington, London) Pop singer and songwriter of Nigerian, Brazilian and West Indian ancestry. Began singing and writing early, but his work didn't fit any of the industry's pigeonholes, so he spent the '80s unsuccessfully making demos; went to Asia '89 with an acid-jazz band for four days, stayed a year and came back refreshed, met techno-pop artist Adamski and their co-written 'Killer' was a no. 1 '90. He signed with Trevor Horn's ZTT label. 'Crazy' was a no. 2 '91, debut album Seal no. 1 in UK, 63 weeks in USA album chart. With the apparent hype behind his dreadlocks a lot of people reserved judgement, but he has turned out to have staying power and a wider talent than first apparent. Seal himself suffered anxiety attacks, later realizing that he was lucky not to hit the big time when he was younger; he is an impressive man, 6]fm[ 4]im[ tall, at ease with himself; his associates, such as manager English-born American Bob Cavello (who managed Prince until Prince changed his name to a squiggle), are old and trusted friends. His second album on Sire/ZTT '94, also called Seal (with guest Joni Mitchell), was still in the Billboard album chart two years later. 'Kiss from A Rose' had been written c'88 in a squat in London, in baroque 3/4 time different from anything else he had done; as he was under contract to a WB label, the sister film company chose it as the title song for Batman Forever '94; he won Grammys '96 for best record, best song and best male pop vocal (on the Grammy broadcast he sang 'Kiss' and duetted with Annie Lennox on Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'). He is not only the best-selling British pop artist in the world, but one of the few black artists with complete crossover success, having shaved off the dreadlocks long ago.