The Soul of Seal

By Clay Cane

Originally published on Advocate.com November 25 2008 1:00 AM ET

This month Heidi
Klum’s ol' man released his sixth studio album, the
appropriately titled Soul. Armed with legendary
producer David Foster, Seal easily slips into the smoky,
gripping sounds of 12 classic soul covers from artists like
Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and James Brown. Freshly
inspired after the win of Barack Obama, the U.K. divo
sounded off on bad journalism, his dance-music days,
and a change coming for all people.

Advocate.com:According to Vanity Fair, you and your wife
said that you would officially leave the United
States if Sen. John McCain won the election. I
guess this means you two aren't going anywhere?
Seal: There is the old adage: "Don’t
believe everything you read." We never said that... Neither
of us said that. However, such is the current state of
journalism. What I did say was that I came to this
country 20 years ago because it was the greatest
country in the world, where everything was possible, where
dreams happened. In the last eight years, I’ve
watched that dream fade under the current
administration. More specifically, I’ve watched the
people not be in a position or have guidance or have a
catalyst to do anything about it. I felt that in this
election, at least there was someone who would come
along who was going to offer true leadership,
governorship, and a true vision. It was about the American
people. While I am not an American myself and I cannot
vote, my wife is an American citizen now. She can and
did vote. More importantly, we have a vested interest
in America, in three beautiful American children. My concern
was the America they are going to grow up in. I never
once said, “I am leaving this country if McCain
wins.” So, that is a misquote.

Your new album is classic covers of soul music. In
what specific ways have you been inspired by this style
of music?
I grew up listening to soul music -- people like
Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, and the
Supremes. It's part of my early musical education;
it's part of my DNA. There has always been a natural
affinity on my part to that kind of music. Then,
couple that with the change, the real change that I
saw going on in America that manifested in the
election of Obama. When I saw that real change happening,
before he was elected, that is what really inspired me
to sing "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke.

Many of the songs on the album are rooted in the
black civil rights movement. I know you are of Nigerian
and Brazilian descent, but do you feel a
connection with the black American struggle?
Only inasmuch as I've lived here for almost 20
years. I realize the dynamics between whites and
blacks in America is extremely different than whites
and blacks in my own country, in England. For example,
interracial relationships in England have been
something that has been going on since the '60s --
it's quite commonplace. It's not that commonplace in America
because America is still quite divisive in its attitudes. I
understand the plight and history of how black people
came to be in America is a very different history to
how they came to be in England. I understand the
reason for it. However, I'm about moving forward, I'm about
change, I'm about thinking progressively. I'm about
moving towards a colorless existence. I do feel that
is what this new administration will be about. Obama
is the very embodiment of this great country. He's not black
-- he's of mixed race. He is no more black than Tiger
Woods is black, than my kids are black. He is the
perfect combination of the beauty which is America --
white and black.

You have a diverse background and you are in an
interracial relationship. Do you experience racism in
2008, or is that not a part of your life?
We experience it. To say that we don't
experience it would be naive. I just don't let it in
and I try and keep it away from my kids.

 SEAL SOUL COVER X390 (PUBLICITY) | ADVOCATE.COM

There are many political songs on the album like "A
Change Is Gonna Come" and "People Get Ready." Where do
you think the gay community fits into those political songs?
The same applies, I would have to say -- a
change is gonna come. I do believe in the rights of
gay people to be married. I don’t believe that
you can say "change" with one hand and say, "But yeah,
change only for a certain few." I think this is a
different generation; these are different times. We
live in the age of new media. The world is a much
smaller place. The world is a much more educated place. The
world is a much more conscious place. The world is not
able to be divided by misconception and misuse of
religion anymore, which contributes to all the
divisiveness or the prejudices between heterosexuals and the
gay community. Many religions say it's not holy. Well,
as far as I am concerned, that's bullshit! There needs
to be change right across the board.

The gay community has always been a fan of yours
-- since your days of electronic and dance music in
the early '90s.
Yeah! That's what I'm talking about!
[Laughs]

When did you realize you had a gay following? When I played in San Francisco -- every time I
play in San Francisco it goes off! Also, when I play
in certain parts of Europe like Austria and
Switzerland, where they have a huge gay community. Like guys
and guys making out in the front row!

[Laughs] It's funny, every time I hear
"Crazy" it reminds me of the first time I kissed a guy.
Really? Well, see, there you go, man, you took
my advice -- you're never gonna survive!
[Laughs]

What do you think of Alanis Morissette’s remake
of "Crazy"?
I thought it was great and I was flattered. You
know, we are really fortunate as artists to be given
the position to do what we do. Anytime that somebody
is brave enough to cover one of your songs, I think that is
the highest accolade. You can put that up there with me
winning a Grammy. I just think it's amazing.

You've always had an incredible sense of style.
Does this come naturally or do you have a glam squad?
Well, first of all, thank you! [Laughs] I
haven’t been feeling very stylish recently. No,
it's something I’ve always been quite fond of.
It's something I always found that works hand in hand with
music. I have a passion for style and clothes as much
as I do for music. I get turned on if I see my
favorite designer, Carol Christian Poell, make a new coat.
It's amazing -- it's like buying a piece of art.

Do you ever get tired of singing "Kiss From a Rose"? Yes! [Laughs] No, I don't, that's a joke.
Anyone who is fortunate enough to have one hit like
that in your life, you never get tired of singing it.
I like it; I'm proud of it.

When can we expect an album of original material?Very, very soon, there is going to be System
2
. It's going to be real sexy, real up-tempo -- just
sexy as hell!