Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Memories of my father and debates over Seal

Whenever I hear any song by the unique talent that is Seal, I think of my father. Back in the 1990s I was a huge Seal fan. I think it may have started with Kiss from a Rose from Batman Forever.

In my teen know-it-all days, my father and I had a heated debate over Seal's origins. Mind you, this was long before Wikipedia, Google or even Altavista could have solved any argument within seconds. I insisted that British-born Seal was of Jamaican descent which I had read in either Smash Hits or Number One magazines. My father begged to differ. He insisted Seal had distinct Yoruba features and half-jokingly suggested that his facial scars could be as a result of Yoruba scarification. This was an argument that could not be won. my dad stood his ground and so did I. I think I was more perturbed that parents were not supposed to even know anything about contemporary pop music. They were supposed to be listening to classic highlife, the Beatles, Fela and Osibisa!

As it turns out, my father was halfway right. According to Wikipedia, Seal was born Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel in London. With a name that includes 'Olusegun', 'Olumide' or 'Adeola', one can only be of Yoruba descent! However, the jury is still out on the scars. 

Seal is probably one of the under-rated musical geniuses of our time. Those amazing lyrics and that atypical singing voice. Seal first hit the scene as a vocalist on Adamski's Killer in 1990. Which raises an even bigger question; like where is Adamski these days? Then there was Seal's 1991 unforgettable hit Crazy. I must say I was glad when Seal finally chopped off the dreads. 
Seal  in the Crazy video with the dreads
Interestingly, at the height of my Seal adoration, I had the surreal experience of walking between him and his model girlfriend (at the time) in Heathrow Airport. Its a true story I used to tell anybody who would listen. I had just gotten off my flight from Johannesburg and had a few hours to kill before a connecting flight to the US. I could not believe my eyes as I walked between Seal and his German model at the time, Tatjana Patitz. As they towered on either side of me I was in awe. I was so shocked that I went back and followed them wanting to ask for an autograph.  In the end, I did not have the nerve. I turned around and went back to look for my gate. Oddly, the real-life encounter led to a cooling off of my appreciation for Seal but I was still a fan. 

Recently I have re-discovered my appreciation for Seal with the beautiful song The Right Life

Well, its my Father's birthday today and I'm celebrating with my Seal collection. I just wish I could have told my father in the living years that he was right about Seal; he is indeed a (super-talented) Yoruba man.


LadyNgo said...

He has some form of lupus and thats where his scars come from (so they say). Anywho, i think the ONLY song by Seal that I like is Kiss from a Rose (that song was epic).

Evelyn Bertrand said...

my dearest Sister... thanks for keeping the memories of our dear father alive. eve

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Most at times we think we know it all. And that feeling is worst when we have indeed read it from 'somewhere'. lol.

Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

novisi said...

let me just scream out loud that i'm a fan fan fan of Seal. love his style of music. it's deep and makes you dance too. zinglo!

novisi said...

meanwhile, happy birthday to the good pop.

and oh, seal does photography too so you can see his obvious 'eye-for-perfection' in his beautiful videos. forgive me if i like this guy too much but i've written many of my poems while just listening to seal and allowing my head to weave between 'near and far' thoughts.

kiss from a rose is no where near my favourites though it got much commercial hype and success.

the ones i'd readily play before allowing 'kiss from a rose' to pass through are:
love's divine,
don't cry, which starts with a soulful cry "don't be so hard on yourself" la la la...
prayer for the dying
human beings
bring it on

Abena Serwaa said...

@LadyNgo indeed you are absolutely right...There were reports about him suffering from lupus and its even on his wikipedia page. Since (to my knowledge) he hasn't come out to say anything specifically about the scars, I'm still not certain...Kiss from a Rose is definitely epic!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Evey, I see my guilt-tripping you into coming over to my blog worked ;) In all seriousness, thanks for the kind words....bestest big sister a girl could have. Love you lots!

Abena Serwaa said...

Thanks Nana FA...very profound...

Abena Serwaa said...

@Novisi....wow where do I start. Thanks for the birthday wishes on behalf of my Dad.

So nice to hear you are a Seal Fan!
My Seal favorites almost in order of appreciation (highest first)
*Kiss from a Rose
*Future love Paradise ("But if only you could see them...." classic start)
*The Right Life
*Prayer for the dying
*Newborn friend
*Don't cry
*Bring it on
*Fly like an Eagle (Not written by him but love his take)

madeinaccra said...

Seal's scars look to me like those from long untreated acne problems, but what do I know. I saw him once in the Village (NYC)... looked very casual and tall. It's been 16 years since Kiss From A Rose, and I still pause to listen when I hear it played.

Think-About-It said...

I can tell you still would argue with your Dad today and stand your ground regarding Seal's facial scars. I love that beautiful relationship!

Kiss from a rose is the only Seal song I can identify. :-(

Abena Serwaa said...

@MadeinAccra Sadly (or happily?) I have no experience with acne...I was struck by how Seal was in that brief encounter. Man, I miss New York...running into all sorts. Once ran into Chris Noth (ie Mr Big in SATC/Peter Florrick-The Good Wife/ Mike Logan-Law and Order) down near NYU. Again, should have asked for an autograph..

Abena Serwaa said...

@Think-about-it You are very right about that!!! You really should check out other Seal songs...like Future Love Paradise...love it

novisi said...

I forgot to add 'Dreaming in metaphors'.
That's one song that atlantis fm used to play a lot when they used to play more 'deep meaning' songs. and really it was atlantis fm that made me realise that i had a far reaching connection with Seal than just the 'kiss from a rose' that i first saw on GTV when i was child.
awwwwwww i'm obsessed.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Novisi; 'Dreaming in Metaphors' I will add to my list....Between 'Prayer for the dying' and 'Newborn friend'...you have good taste!