"I didn't have a particularly happy childhood … it made me who I am: it was the engine that drove me to succeed," he told CBC News.
"At this point in my life I have to honour that. I have to give thanks to all the people in my life: my parents, brother and sisters and the families I used to know."
Sting, 62, is venturing into a new arena with The Last Ship, a musical based on his own memories of growing up near Wallsend, in northeastern England.
The production tells the story of a man who returns home to find his town's future in jeopardy when its crucial shipyard is threatened with closure. The singer recently released an accompanying album, also titled The Last Ship.
Enduring Canadian connection
The British shipbuilding industry stretched far beyond England's shores, including to Canada.
Sting grew up in the shadow of the U.K.'s famed Swan Hunter shipyard, where among countless others, the Canadian research vessel CSS Acadia was built.
Now 100 years old, the ship remains in Halifax harbour as a museum, a testament to the past that's celebrated in The Last Ship.
In the attached video, Sting talks to CBC's Susan Ormiston about revisiting his roots, how Canada figures into his first-ever guitar and what success means to him now.
Tune in to The National on Tuesday to watch Ormiston's feature-length report on Sting and The Last Ship.