Melanie Brown rose to fame as one fifth of pop group, The Spice Girls who dominated the charts in the second half of the 1990s. Her distinctive Leeds accent stands out a mile in the celebrity world. Known for her forthrightness, she brings true Yorkshire spirit to the entertainment industry in which she belongs.
Melanie Brown was born on May 29th 1975 in Harehills, Leeds. As a young girl she took an interest in singing and dancing which lead to her studying performing arts at Intake High School, before progressing to Leeds College of Music and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Chapeltown.
While undertaking a non-music role as a telemarketer for a local newspaper, she crossed the Pennines to make her first TV appearance on Coronation Street in October 1993. Brown played the un-credited part of Amy Nelson in the character’s last episode after filling in for another actress, who had left the soap suddenly due to health reasons.
The Spice Girls
In 1994, like four hundred other women Melanie Brown answered an advert in “The Stage” magazine, who were looking for “streetwise, outgoing, ambitious and dedicated females aged 18-23 that were able to sing and dance.” The company responsible for the ad were Heart management Ltd and they were looking to form an all-female pop act for a record deal.
She made it through to the final auditions singing, “The Greatest Love of All,” by Whitney Houston. Brown, along with Melanie Chisholm, Victoria Adams, Geri Halliwell, who had arrived late in the process and another girl called Michelle Stephenson formed the band, “Touch” and lived in a house owned by Heart Management. They rehearsed and practiced songs at South Hill recording studios in Berkshire, including one track called “Sugar and Spice,” which eventually inspired them to change their names to the “Spice Girls.”
Michelle Stephenson left the band after failing to gel with the other band members and was replaced by an eighteen year old named Emma Bunton.
The bands continued to record and rehearse, even writing their own songs, such as, “It’s Another One of Those Days.” However by March 1995 the group were beginning to grow frustrated by their lack of progress and treatment by their management company, who had yet to produce them a recording contract. They began sending their demos off to other management companies and persuaded their boss, Bob Herbert to give them more showcases and opportunities. Word was beginning to spread among the record industry about these five Spice girls and interest in them was growing. The group eventually joined Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment in March 1995. They continued to write new material and toured the West Coast of the USA. Amongst the new material to be written by Melanie Brown and her cohorts was a song called “Wannabe,” which after several recording and mixing attempts finally became their first single in the summer of 1996.
The single was a smash hit topping the charts in twenty-nine countries, while the now famous video was a massive hit on the various music channels at the time, including MTV and The Box. It also became the biggest selling single by an all-girl group, meaning Melanie Brown and The Spice Girls had arrived with a bang. One magazine at the time started to give them nicknames, of which Melanie Brown was dubbed, “Scary Spice,” a name which has stuck ever since.
The Spice Girls went on to have nine more number one singles throughout the rest of the decade plus three albums, “Spice, “Spiceworld” and “Forever.” During the second half of the 1990s they became the biggest pop band in the world. Their first album, “Spice” went multi-platinum across the world and they were at the forefront of many advertising campaigns including Pepsi and the launch of Channel 5 in 1997. There was also “Spiceworld the movie,” which broke box office records in America.
The demise of the Spice Girls began when Geri Halliwell left the band in 1998 and the group, including Melanie carried on as a four piece for two further years. Their third album, “Forever,” (2000) was not as successful as the others, merely reaching number two in the album charts, spawning the moderate singles, “Holler” and the ominously titled “Goodbye.” Added to this at the dawn of the Millennium the pop market was changing and the boy and girl bands which had dominated the last decade were beginning to lose popularity. In late 2000 the Spice Girls finally broke up to pursue solo careers.
Melanie Brown had already tasted solo success before the breakup of the Spice Girls, when she teamed up with rapper, Missy Elliott to release “I Want You Back,” which stormed to number one in 1998. She also released a solo album, “Hot,” one month before the Spice Girls’ final album was released.
After the breakup she continued with her music career, but as the decade progressed and the 90s were left further behind, the popularity of her and the other girls’ solo music waned.
Life After The Spice Girls 2000-2014
After the Spice Girls split, Mel B turned her attentions towards theatre and starred as ‘Mimi’ in the Broadway musical, ‘Rent’ and appeared in the ‘Vagina Monologues’ on London’s West End.
In the late 2000s, Melanie Brown turned to another burgeoning industry which was beginning to grow during this time, being a judge in a reality show. Given her experience of being a member of the biggest pop band in the world, coupled with her down to earth, forthright views steeped in Leeds and Yorkshireness she seemed the ideal choice.
Mel cut her teeth in this new world as a celebrity mentor in the judge’s houses round of X Factor Australia in 2010. The following year she became a judge in her own right on the panel on the antipodean version of the show. She became firmly ensconced in the Simon Cowell Empire by being a judge on America’s Got Talent in 2013 and appearing on the British X Factor as a guest judge, during the Manchester auditions. In 2014 she became a member of the main judging panel for that year’s competition, alongside Cowell, the ever-green Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole, something which would only last for one series. She also had judging stints on America’s got Talent and The Voice Kids in Australia in that year.
Spice Girls Reunion Tours
In 2007 it was announced that the Spice Girls were to re-unite and embark upon a one –off world tour, joined by their children on stage at one of their gigs in London. After this was over and a Greatest Hits album the girls went their separate ways once again.
The girls briefly reunited in 2012 at the Closing Ceremony of the London Olympics. In 2018, Mel B, Emma Bunton, Mel C and Geri Horner (Helliwell) announced a reunion ‘Spiceworld’ tour for the following year at major arenas around the UK and Ireland, including Croke Park in Dublin and Wembley Stadium.
At the time of writing it has been announced that The Spice Girls will undertake a 25-year anniversary World Tour in 2021 and it is rumoured that this will be for the final time.
TV Appearances 2016-2020
Mel B returned to The X Factor in Australia in 2016, while carrying on with her judging role on America’s Got Talent until 2018. She also became the co-presenter of Lip Sync Battle UK alongside Professor Green which lasted for two years from 2016 to 2018. In this year, after several previous guest appearances, Brown also became a regular panellist on the ITV show, Loose Women. In May 2019, Mel B appeared on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories where she revealed the varying nature of her relationships with both men and women, including former bandmate, Geri Halliwell. She also described Eddie Murphy, who she had a brief relationship with in 2006 and was the father of her second child, Angel, as ‘the love of her life.’ At the time of the interview, Melanie had been through a messy divorce to her second husband, Stephen Belafonte and she outlined the nature of their stormy marriage.
In 2019, Melanie joined fellow Loiner, Leigh Francis on his panel show, Celebrity Juice. At the time of writing she has announced her departure from the show to make time for the 2021 Spice Girls World Tour.
Melanie Brown went from a council estate in Leeds to becoming one of the most photographed and recognised women on the planet. Despite her travelling the world as both singer and judge, she has never lost that distinctive West Yorkshire accent. Her direct and bulldozing style has made her a popular addition to any judging panel she has been on, while her music with the Spice Girls has inspired and empowered women all over the world.
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