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Seal with a 'Kiss'

Pop singer to showcase both past and future hits at Borgata

By Joe Szczechowski
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 17, 2007

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Seal, the British-born singer-songwriter of Brazilian and Nigerian heritage, burst on the music scene in 1991 with a self-titled album that presented a unique fusion of soul, folk, pop, dance and rock, and immediately brought him success on both sides of the Atlantic. Although he's only released three albums since -- six, if you count two live recordings and a 2004 hits collection -- Seal continues to attract a large and intensely loyal international following.

Local fans can check out the Grammy-award-winning artist, and hear new music from Seal's upcoming album when he performs at the Borgata Music Box on Friday, May 18.

Despite his relatively sparse recording output, the 44-year-old singer, whose real name is Sealhenry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, has managed to remain in the public eye. He's released enough new music to remind listeners of his distinctive soulful voice, including a Grammy-nominated cover of Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By" on Best 1991 - 2004, and the song, "A Father's Way" (from the film The Pursuit of Happyness), which received a 2006 Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.

With a lean, muscular 6'4" frame, Seal's sheer physical presence has always been enough for him to garner media attention. Growing up in the image-conscious MTV era, Seal has been savvy enough to take advantage of it. He might have gone into modeling, but was initially discouraged by the facial scars he carries as a result of a childhood bout with lupus. But when he decided on a performing career, Seal became convinced that the half-moon scars under his eyes were an omen of future stardom.

"I got really depressed about [the scars] at first, as you can understand," he said in an interview with Rob Tannenbaum of Rolling Stone magazine. "Now I really like them. If I could design something, I don't think I could do it better."

He did design the rest of his look, which at one time featured long dreadlocks, but now sports a clean-shaven head.

"True beauty is internal and eternal -- it doesn't matter what's only skin deep," he has said.

Apparently, his view of female beauty tends to be more traditional. Seal dated supermodel Tyra Banks in the mid-90s, and married supermodel Heidi Klum in 2005. The couple has two children.

Seal began his performing career singing in London clubs and bars. He joined an English funk band called Push, which was successful enough to tour Japan in the mid-'80s. From there, Seal took advantage of his time abroad, immersing himself in a variety of musical cultures, and perhaps influencing his own eclectic style of pop music. While in Asia, he joined a Thailand-based blues band. After a short time with that group, he traveled throughout India on his own.

When he returned to England, Seal started collaborating with artists on the local dance music scene. He wrote and independently recorded a song called "Killer" with keyboardist Adamski. Its balance of dance and rock, coupled with Seal's emotional singing and lyrics, took it to the top of the U.K. charts.

The song caught the attention of producer Trevor Horn (Tina Turner, Pet Shop Boys, Yes), who signed Seal to his ZTT label and produced his eponymous debut in 1991. The album was positively received by both critics and fans, and the singles "Crazy," "Future Love Paradise" and a new version of "Killer" all performed well on the charts.

But it was Seal's second album, also self-titled, that established him as one of pop music's top artists of the '90s. The 1994 album was also produced by Horn, and featured guest appearances by Joni Mitchell and Jeff Beck. It included the singles "Prayer for the Dying" and "Newborn Friend," and received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. A third single, "Kiss From a Rose," performed modestly when initially released, but later became a worldwide smash hit when it was featured in the film Batman Forever. "Kiss From a Rose" went on to win Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1996, and became Seal's best known song.

Sales of 1998's Human Being failed to match those of Seal's first two albums, and the singer went through a difficult period, both personally and professionally. He had a falling out with Horn and left ZTT Records for Warner Brothers.

Seal returned to form for 2003's Seal IV. Again produced by Horn, the album was a critical and commercial success, and included the singles "Get It Together," "Waiting For You" and "Love's Divine."

In blog posts on Seal.com, his official Web site, Seal has talked about his new album (let's take a wild guess and call it Seal V) which he plans to release this fall. He says it will reflect a return to his roots as a club singer. Some of the song titles include "Swoosh," "Silent," "Wedding Day" and "When You Run."

Hoping for a fresh sound, the album will be produced by Bill Bottrell, known for his work with Sheryl Crow, Tom Petty, and Rusted Root.

"The new record is really shaping up and is turning out to be much of a dance record," Seal said in a recent post. "Over the years I've somehow become more known for my ballads, which I also love doing, but dance music has always been close to my heart. Make no mistake, there will also be a killer ballad or three on this record, but at this point in my life I really want to make something that is more dance-directed."


Seal
Where: Borgata
When: Friday, May 18, 9pm
How Much: $65
Tickets: 1-800-298-4200 or at Borgata box office

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