Seal is one of those musical artists who defies categorization. He began his

career as a popular singer on England's house-music scene. But his

subsequent work has encompassed soul, funk, pop, dance and rock -- all tied

together by his breathy, multi-ranged voice.

Sealhenry Samuel was born 36 years ago today in London, to Nigerian and

Brazilian parents. He received an architecture degree, but worked as an

electrical engineer and clothing designer before he began singing on London's

club scene.

He hooked up with the funk band Push to tour Japan. But soon after, Seal

joined a blues band in Thailand, before spending time traveling by himself

through India.

Upon Seal's return to England, he fortuitously met house/techno producer

Adamski. Seal sang on and co-wrote Adamski's British dance hit "Killer" and

was then signed by Sire Records as a solo act. Seal's 1991 eponymous debut

LP, produced by former Buggle Trevor Horn, spawned the top-10 U.S. pop hit

"Crazy." The song's video attracted the attention of MTV, due to Seal's tall,

muscular physique and scarred face (which is the result of an allergy). Seal

also re-recorded "Killer" for the album.

In 1993, Seal and Jeff Beck contributed a take on "Manic Depression" to

Stone Free, a Jimi Hendrix tribute album.

The following year brought Seal's second self-titled album that began selling

slowly along with the top-40 single "Prayer for the Dying." Joni Mitchell, one of

Seal's musical heroes, sang with him on the cut "If I Could" and Seal returned

the favor by vocalizing with Mitchell on "How Do You Stop" (a song James

Brown once recorded) from her 1994 Turbulent Indigo.

Another song from Seal's second album,


music/Seal/Kiss_From_A_Rose.ram">"Kiss From a Rose" (RealAudio

excerpt), was then issued as a single and featured on the "Batman Forever" film

soundtrack. The track shot to #1 in America, pushing the LP into the

multiplatinum zone and greatly increasing Seal's public profile. The song won

the 1996 Grammy for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Male

Pop Vocal Performance. In addition, "Prayer for the Dying" was nominated for a

1995 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Seal's debut

album was nominated for Best Pop Album and Best Engineered Album.

After a brief hiatus, Seal returned last year with Human Being. The first

single, "Human Beings," makes reference to late rappers Tupac Shakur and the

Notorious B.I.G. Other cuts include "Lost My Faith," "No Easy Way" and "Colour."

Other birthdays: Bob Engemann (Lettermen), 63; Smokey Robinson, 59; Bobby

Rogers (The Miracles), 59; Lou Christie, 56; Pierre Van Den Linden (Focus), 53;

Mark Andes (Spirit, Firefall, Heart), 51; Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), 51; Peter

Holsapple (dB's, Continental Drifters), 43; Dave Wakeling (English Beat,

General Public), 43; Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), 39; John

Christ (Danzig), 34 ... Falco, 1957-1998.