Seal was born to a Nigerian mother and Brazilian father in Kilburn, London. Both his parents were students with part-time jobs, and he was privately fostered with a white family with four born-to children in Essex, where he was very happy. When he was four years old, his mother reclaimed him (his parents had divorced), but two years later she became ill and returned (or was deported) to Nigeria to live, leaving him with his father.
His father had ambitions for Seal to become a doctor or lawyer and would not accept his desire to become a singer, and he was physically abused for years. He ran away from home and dropped out of school when he was 15
Eventually, he went to college and has a degree in architecture, but his interest remained focused on music, and has been a professional singer since his early 20s.
As a child he contracted lupus, which has left his face disfigured.