By A. G. Moore
Seal, the international recording star, understands that people react to the noticeable scars on his face. These distinctive marks are taken for tribal wounds, a legacy perhaps of some ritual he endured as a child in Africa. But, Seal hastens to explain, the scars are not tribal; they are the result of a disease he has had since he was a teenager — discoid lupus. At a 2008 benefit concert, Seal revealed that he’s been suffering from the disease for more than twenty years.
The type of lupus he has is known as discoid lupus erythematosus, a disease in which skin lesions occur mostly on the face, neck and scalp. Though Seal carried the mark of this illness since his youth, he accords it no more importance than he accords any other difficulty he has confronted. He’s been quoted as saying that whatever happened in his childhood, as difficult as some of it was, he has no regrets. Everything, the good and the bad, made him the man that he is today and so all of it was a necessary part of his growth.
Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, the second of six children, was born on February 16, 1963 in Paddington England. Not long after his birth he was sent to live in a foster home. The interlude with this foster family was apparently the happiest of his childhood. He remembers fondly that he was accepted by the foster parents as though he was their own child. Unfortunately, the peaceful period came to an end when he was four years old. That is when his mother reappeared and took him to live with her.
After two years she became ill and Seal changed hands once again as he went to live with his biological father and his stepmother. Seal characterizes the years that followed as “horrific”.
Not only did the family live in great poverty but they also were constantly in tumult. Seal describes his father as being a violent man, who used whips and fists to enforce order. The father, Seal states, was the product of a home in which he also experienced violence. It was a cycle that was visited on succeeding generations. Understanding this, Seal determined that he would break the cycle and not repeat the mistakes of his forebears. When he left home, Seal explains, he left behind the violence. In order to become the man that he is today, Seal had to stand up to his father and strike out on his own.
At the age of fifteen, Seal dropped out of school and worked at odd jobs to support himself. Eventually, he returned to school and earned an Associate degree in Architecture. When he wasn’t working, or in school, he focused on his true interest: music. He played in pubs, and performed anywhere he could, before joining the band, Push. With Push he traveled through India where he experienced a kind of spiritual awakening.. Evidence of this new insight would appear later in his music. Finally, in 1990, his first big break came when he collaborated on a hit album with music producer Adamski. The following year Seal produced his own album, and the smash single “Crazy” was released.
By 1996 Seal was an international brand. That year the music industry took note of his status by granting him its highest award, the Grammy. Seal received three Grammys, one for Best Male Pop Vocal, one for Record of the Year and one for Song of the Year.
Although he enjoyed professional success and artistic fulfillment, Seal found his greatest satisfaction in his family. In 2004 he married supermodel, Heidi Klum. Klum was expecting a child from a previous relationship when they married. Upon his marriage, he expressed a sense of fulfillment; he stated that with this new family he had achieved everything he always dreamed about. Seal adopted Klum’s child, Leni, and the couple went on to have three more children together. Being a father, for Seal, is the most important job in his life. He is determine to do this job right, because he realizes that there are no second chances with your children.
Seal today is a multimillionaire. He is a respected musician, with fans all over the world. At any point he could have buckled to the challenges he encountered. Perhaps the few years he spent with a loving foster family gave him the personal resources to prevail over hardship. Or, perhaps he was gifted with an innate strength of character and that enabled him to overcome obstacles. Whatever the origin of his drive, however, it is inescapable that he has succeeded where many would have failed. He carried with grace and poise the evidence of disease; he overcame a legacy of poverty; he defied a childhood filled with violence; and he contributed to the world a body of music that enriches and inspires.
Some people are defeated by adversity. Some succeed despite adversity. Seal seems to be one of those rare individuals who grow stronger because of adversity. He once said that his father’s gift to him was to show him, by example, exactly what a father shouldn’t do.
Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, whom the world knows as Seal, has an illness called lupus; he has transformed what could have been the stigma of disease into a kind of trademark. By any standard, this would be a significant achievement. However, for Seal, it is just one of many accomplishments in the life of a very remarkable man.
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