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Steven Seagal: Martial Artist, Lawman or Musician?

Written by Paul Swaim, AMAM

“As a Buddhist, we look at life literally as an ocean of suffering, not expecting anything to go smoothly.” ~ Steven Seagal

Steven Seagal

Action film superstar Steven Seagal is a man of many impressive talents. A renowned master of martial arts who’s said to have the honor of being one of the only western Caucasian’s to have formally taught the art of Aikido while living in Japan. Seagal then forged himself a successful place in motion pictures in the 1980’s and 90’s, utilizing his extensive martial arts background in the films, “Above the Law”, “Marked for Death”, “Under Siege”, & “On Deadly Ground.” Plus many more big hits.

Seagal, a devote Buddhist who’s sometimes referred to as sort of an enigma to the genre, has been plagued by aging, weight-gain, poor movie scripts and lawsuits in recent years, causing a slump in his current box office draw.

Imagine my surprise when one of my students recently arrived for his training session and presented me with a CD that had Steven Seagal with a guitar in hand pictured on the front cover. I’d heard Seagal played some, but didn’t realize he’d actually produced an entire album.

I loaded it into my CD player and gave it a spin as we trained. I was pleasantly surprised at how strong and energetic a singing voice Seagal had on the first track we heard. The musical arrangements were good and all the tracks sounded well produced. Seagal seemed a competent singer-songwriter whose blues influence was unmistakably apparent. This CD featured songs resembling certain Jack Johnson recordings, while others incorporated some cool Indian instrumentation. One song even featured a very appealing Stevie Wonder harmonica solo. Yes, it really is Stevie playing there on a track called, “My God.” Seagal, who claims to have been playing music nearly his entire life, says he’s written about 150 songs. “It’s my first life,” says Seagal, speaking from the AIDS/ HIV foundation he’s set up in Ghana. “When my momma died two years ago she said, ‘Son, you’ve got a lot of songs people will like. Put them out.’”

A native of Detroit, Seagal grew up listening to the blues he encountered from the many southern migrants living in his neighborhood. He learned to play guitar from some of them and developed his passion fervently. Even after acting became his main career focus, he continued on with music, eventually getting the chance to play alongside such blues luminaries as B.B. King and Clarence Brown. Seagal has also explored a variety of musical directions during his visits to India, Jamaica and Africa.

At age 54, Steven Seagal has made making his own music a top priority by recording his debut album, “Songs from the Crystal Cave,” with help from a select group of experienced musicians, sound engineers, & record producers. Because of the credibility issues faced by other popular film actors who’ve attempted to break into the music business, Seagal is acutely aware of the challenge he faces.

Seagal's increased interest in making his music known to the world has since released additional material

“As a Buddhist, we look at life literally as the ocean of suffering, not expecting anything to go particularly smoothly,” Seagal says. “One day sunny, a couple of stormy days. Whichever way, I’ll be writing songs about it.”

Steven Seagal on duty

2009: For the past twenty years, Steven Seagal, a major motion picture action icon kept a secret. As it turns out, he has been moonlighting as an active Deputy Sherriff in Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana. His highly rated television show "Lawman" on A&E chronicles his true life action adventures as he patrols the streets taking down the real bad guys with his own particular brand of justice!

Steven Seagal  at the crime scene

It is interesting to discover the thin line between some of his movie star persona and the real man in episodes displaying his expert marksmanship, his keen Aikido trained senses, his tough guy image and his actual compassion towards the neighborhoods he protects. This gives this successful show a real appeal and keeps viewers tuning in to every episode!

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