Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel was born in London, England, on February 19, 1963, of Nigerian heritage. He was raised in foster care for a time before being brought up by his stepmother and father, a difficult, angry figure who was physically abusive.
Seal earned a degree in architecture and worked various jobs before pursuing music, working with the band Push and traveling to Japan, Thailand and India. By the time he was 23, he had developed scars on his face as the result of a rare form of lupus.
Though he initially refused to be taken on by labels, Seal scored a major hit back in London with producer Adamski and the single "Killer," which went to the top of U.K. charts. He signed with ZIT, the label of producer Trever Horn, whom would work on the singer's first four studio albums.
Seal made his full-length, self-titled album debut in 1991 and scored with the moody, socially aware single "Crazy," which reached the Top 10 of Billboard's pop chart. The artist won several Britain-based awards and released his second self-titled album in 1994, a work that was sonically lusher than its predecessor and featured "Prayer Before Dying" and "Don't Cry," as well as vocals from Joni Mitchell.
Another album single, "Kiss From a Rose," was granted a spot on the Batman Forever soundtrack and became a No. 1 pop and adult contemporary hit, also catapulting Seal 1994 into multi-platinum status. The song and vocalist went on to win Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Seal made a contribution to the 1996 Space Jam soundtrack with a Steve Miller Band cover, "Fly Like an Eagle," that reached the pop and adult contemporary Top 10. His next full-length studio outing, Human Being, came forth in 1998, followed by another self-titled album in 2003 that showcased the single "Love Divine."
After releasing a greatest hits collection and Live From Paris, Seal dropped System in 2007, the first album in which he didn't work with Horn. He instead collaborated with producer Stuart Price, known for Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor.
System had a more dance/up-tempo feel than its predecessors, though Seal's albums have generally incorporated electronic soundscapes into tunes that blend acoustic pop and R&B. His lyrics, framed by a gravelly voice, have tended to be ruminations on relationships and the ways that we live. He has also cultivated an image of a sophisticate who embraces fine art aesthetics, appearing nude on album covers and sporting debonair fashion.
In the fall of 2008, Seal released Soul, a collection of covers featuring the works of R&B greats like Ben E. King, Curtis Mayfield and Otis Redding. He worked on the project with super-producer David Foster, and the two would collaborate again on 2010's Commitment. Seal returned to covers of classics—and reunited with Horn—on 2012's Soul 2.
Seal once again worked with Horn for his next album of original material, 7, slated for a mid-November release. The singer has lead off with several singles that include swoon-inducing ballad "Every Time I'm With You" and the uptempo "Life on the Dance Floor."
Seal at one point dated supermodel (and future America's Got talent host) Tyra Banks during the earlier part of his career. He later married Project Runway host and America's Got Talent judge Heidi Klum in 2005. The two, who lived in Los Angeles, sang together on the System track "Wedding Day" and have four children, with Seal adopting Klum's child from a previous union. Klum filed for divorce in 2012, and the couple issued an accompanying public statement, later speaking to the media individually about the split.