"All my songs are therapy. I'm giving therapy to myself."

You can catch this concept much better if you're an artist too. But if we imagine we're reading laid along two parallel columns Seal's biography on a side and his songs lyrics on the other, all at once it's easier to understand (and to bear) features and behaviours from many other people around us.

SealHenry Olumide Samuel was born on february 19, '63 in London. His parents, Francis (a plumber and interior decorator) and Bisi (a homemaker), had moved there from Nigeria and divorced when he was still an infant. Raised first by foster parents and then by his own father. And quite with his father he shall have uncertain and tumultuous relationship, probably for the lack of a constant point of reference. That's how Seal talks about his father in an interview: "I think he loved me but he was unable to show me. He was a bitter person who'd missed a lot of opportunities in life". And we can suppose that some of those opportunities where about his family's affection.

In spite of this "rough childhood", he gets a degree in architecture. His job life after the degree is spread through a variety of works, from electrical engineering to leather designer (he designs his long leather blazer he wears in the Seal I CD cover) and even to posting ads for London prostitutes; the latter occupation resulted in an arrest.

After trying to build a music career in London, Seal hooked up with a band called Push, playing funk music on tour in Japan. It was important more for geographical than for musical reasons: "I'd never been to that part of the equator before, It was right up my alley". After a jaunt with a Thailand blues group, he made his way to India and there had what he called "a few spiritual experiences." The happiness he felt there, he insisted, bestowed a calm and contentment about his future and allowed him to stop wanting a record deal so fervently. He believes this is why he soon got one.

Seal also became convinced that the half-moon 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: "If I could design something, I don't think I could do it better." In 1990 smashing debuts with "Killer", co-written with Adamsky, a british keyboardist. That's how he grabs the attention of Trevor Horn who had made a fortune making records with The Art of Noise and Yes. But Seal will be his favourite "son" and the results of the following years say it clear, with the unique mix of acoustic sounds, complex orchestral arrangements and disco grooves, always renewed in every single album.

Trevor Horn, although disinclined to sign fledcling artists, found himself in competition with other labels that wanted to sign Seal; ZTT Records recruited the young artist by offering him artistic freedom and, as Seal himself said, "quite a bit of money, too." . Same old story of artists ahead of their own time: "My kind of success was different because I had a hit record with something which wasn't immediately commercial in the pop sense. I took [my song] Crazy round to lots of record companies before Killer and although everybody really liked it, they wouldn't touch it. But if you manage to get a hit with a record like that, it's like you've broken through with something which allows you so much room." And also was soon co-opted for a television commercials thanks to "Killer" and "Crazy", ironically the songs that before success they wouldn't touch.

Still, Seal was not ready for everything that immediate success would bring along. After a first phase of exaltation (he tells us "Adamski and myself were in one of those family inn restaurants on a Sunday near Cambridge, [and] the week before we were No. 4 and [pop diva] Madonna was No. 1." When they realized that "Killer" had gained the top position, "I let out this huge roar. Honestly, families around us were going for their children--there was this six-foot-four black man gone wild in Cambridgeshire.") then he experienced several tumultuous and difficult years that caused him to confront the meaning of his sudden fame and, more importantly, his life; and some of these inner conflicts probably deriving from his childhood lacks and the constant fear he didn't deserve all that fame. "You have to work out why you feel so undeserving you have to start healing and you have to start saying to yourself, OK, I am worth it, I do deserve this."

Being overwhelmed by fame gives you such a different perceiving of issues that bounces you in a different and scaring perceiving of yourself "You live one way for 26 years, and then suddenly there's a dramatic change," he reflected "Five years ago I would get annoyed when my dole [unemployment] check arrived a day late. The next thing I know, I'm getting pissed off if my limo didn't turn up." The experience "was completely the opposite of what I'd imagined. If you're a sensitive person, like myself, you quickly realize 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. People come up to you constantly in the street and they treat you like you're an alien." Most tragically, "I thought that the adoration would replace the attention that I sought from my father. I thought success or fame would bring me all these things." All of this led to "a very bad period when I had a lot of panic attacks." As he complained "I wanted the money. I wanted to be a millionaire. But fame can be a pain in the ass."

Along with the anxiety, however, came laurels: the Q award for Best New Act of 1991, and three 1992 Brit Awards. Seal even performed at the Grammy Awards ceremony and he also joined legends like Jeff Beck and Joni Mitchell. After relocating to Los Angeles, Seal gradually began work on a follow-up album. Intent on a stylistic departure rather than a recreation of his debut, he selected a new producer. Steve Lillywhite, who'd worked with Irish rock superstars U2, among others, was his choice. But he soon asked Horn to take over. "Steve was wrong for all the reasons Trevor was the right producer."

The resulting album in 1994 (again called Seal) replaced the debut's pounding rhythms with slyer grooves, while Seal's singing moved away from the anthemic shouts of his earlier hits and became more nuanced and intimate. It was difficult for Seal to stop working on the project. "One time, I was going to the airport and I just turned round and came back to do more vocals,"

Seal claimed that a London healer helped him recover from his illness and clarify his life; he appears on the cover of his second album in the nude, his newly shorn pate adding to the overall image of strength through vulnerability. "My whole approach to this record was one of openness". Hard to say whether it's "Seal II" the work that mostly represents the achievement of this different approach to life and emotions. "Human being" itself is a real Caravaggio painting translated into music that plays more around an homogeneous style line rather than variety.

He then added another layer to his life with his 2005 marriage to model and television host Heidi Klum. The couple welcomed their first child, Henry Gunther Ademola Dashtu Samuel, in September of that year (for Heidi he's the second child and this year they'll have another "new born friend"!!).

From this point on we have few news about Seal's job organization and many more about his new sentimental life, also due to fame and curiosity around top models. We only know that he breaks his collaboration with Trevor Horn; roughly, as we might deduce from the harsh but yet sibilline words on the booklet inside the new album "System".
We dare to make a connection between the hints of accusation and the affection lacks in Seal's childhood, plus a short draw of what's often the producer's figure, metaphorically comparable to a Boss who doesn't allow border trespassings.

Heidi's breaking into Seal's life might have been perceived by Horn as a potential messing with job's plans too. And also a sort of dismission from his point of reference figure that, aware or not, the pop star may have given him. Actually this can easily happen if you missed somehow your point of reference in childhood. I have to remind you though that these are suppositions I'm doing, to understand the emotional source of his deep and meaningful lyrics as song are therapy not only for their authors, are they? Anyway, after Heidi things changed. Seal's life was reaching a higher level where family is the center of everything. As fair it is so. And if Horn hasn't accepted these new balances, Seal on the other hand may have felt this as a sort of abandone.

I'm aware I'm risking to turn this part of Seal's biography into a commonplace conversation with affected psychology. But, unless you're intimate Seal's friend, it's the only way to explain a separation that nobody would never imagine first. And I think it's also fair to underline that Trevor Horn is unique in his gender.

But this is the Seal Fan Club, fan club also of everything around his artistic setting, including the new producer, the great Stuart Price, who, besides many hits, put his sign also the nasty and terrific Madonna's "Confessions on a dance floor". So let's make a toast for Seal' new "system". My friend, how many times did you have to set a new system?

Keep a little "crazy" to survive and say a "prayer for the dying". The "amazing" "human being" in you? "Bring it on"! You'll find your "state of grace" in no other "system" but inside of you. "just like you said".

Also based on an article by Simon Glickman