Mel B – Life, Career & Where She is Now

Melanie Brown rose to fame as one fifth of the pop group Spice Girls. Together they dominated the charts in the second half of the 1990’s.

Nowadays, she’s enjoyed a recent stint as a judge on ITV’s X Factor where her distinctive Leeds dialect stood out a mile amongst the phalanx of accents on the judging panel. Known for her forthrightness in her praise and criticism of contestants, she brings true Yorkshire spirit to the music industry in which she belongs.

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Growing Up

Mel B was born on the 29th of May 1975 in Harehills, Leeds. While she was growing up she also lived in Kirkstall for a time.

A young Melanie took an interest in singing and dancing and decided to study performing arts at Intake High School. Afterwards she progressed 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. She 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.

Young Mel B in Spice Girls

Spice Girls Audition

In 1994, Melanie Brown, along with four hundred other women, answered an advert in “The Stage” magazine. They 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 were looking to form an all female pop act for a record deal.

Melanie made it through to the final auditions singing The Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston. Mel 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”.

All of the girls lived in a house owned by Heart Management. They rehearsed and practised 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.”

After a while, Michelle Stephenson left the band after failing to gel with the other band members. As a result, she was replaced by an eighteen year old named Emma Bunton.

The Beginning of Spice Girls

The bands continued to record and rehearse which included writing their own song “It’s Another One of Those Days.” By March 1995, the group were beginning to grow frustrated by their lack of progress and treatment by Heart Management who had yet to produce them a recording contract.

The group began sending their demos off to other management companies and persuaded their boss Bob Herbert to give them more showcases and opportunities. It wasn’t long before word was beginning to spread among music management circles about these five Spice Girls.

Eventually, the girls left Heart Management and decided to join 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 the other band members was a song called “Wannabe.” After several recording and mixing attempts, it was finally released and became their first single in the summer of 1996.

Spice Girls Career

With a smash hit in 29 countries and their popularity on the new "Box" video channel Melanie Brown and The Spice Girls had arrived with a bang. (Image source:
With a smash hit in 29 countries and their popularity on the new “Box” video channel Melanie Brown and The Spice Girls had arrived with a bang. (Image source:

The single was a smash hit that topped the charts in 29 countries and the now famous music video was also a massive hit on the relatively new “Box” video channel. It also became the biggest selling single by an all-girl group.

Mel B and the Spice Girls had arrived with a bang. One magazine at the time started to give them nicknames where Mel B was dubbed Scary Spice, a name that has been stuck with her 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. They were by far the biggest pop band on the planet throughout these years.

Their first album Spice went multi-platinum across the world which led to them being at the forefront of many advertising campaigns including Pepsi and the launch of Channel 5 in 1997. There was also “Spiceworld The Movie” which, like everything the girls touched, seemed to turn to gold and broke box office records in America.

The Demise of the Spice Girls

In 1998 Geri Halliwell left the band, this started the demise of the Spice Girls. The group, including Mel B, decided to carry on as a four piece for two further years.

Their third album called Forever (2000) was not as successful as the others, merely reaching number two in the album charts, and spawned the moderate singles “Holler” and the ominously titled “Goodbye.” Later on in 2000 they broke up to pursue solo careers.

Mel B’s Solo Career

Mel B already had a taste of solo success before the breakup of the Spice Girls when she teamed up with rapper Missy Elliot 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, Mel B continued with her music career. However, as the decade progressed and the 1990’s were left further behind, the popularity of her and the other girls’ solo music waned.

Getting Back Together

2007 Spice Girls Reunion

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. The media and fans went wild at the possibility they would be joining together again.

Going Separate Ways

After this was over and they’d created a Greatest Hits album, the girls went their separate ways once again. Mel B turned to another burgeoning industry which was beginning to grow during the late 2000’s – being a judge on a reality show.

Melanie has a vast experience of being a member of the biggest pop band in the late 90’s. Coupled with her down to earth forthright views and Yorkshireness, she seemed to be the ideal choice.

Becoming a Reality Show Judge

Mel B as a Judge on X Factor

Mel B 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 replacing Radio DJ Kyle Sandilands on the panel in 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 later appearing on the British X Factor as a guest judge during the Manchester auditions. In 2014, Mel B signed a contract to become a member of the main judging panel for that year’s season alongside Cowell, Louis Walsh, and Cheryl Cole.

Leaving X Factor

The 2014 series was not without its problems for the diva from Leeds. Mel B had to pull out of the judging panel at the X Factor final due to stomach pains amid rumours about the nature of her relationship with her husband Stephen Belafonte. She was then axed by the show’s producers for the next series set to start in August 2015.

Where is Mel B Now?

In 2018, a second Spice Girls reunion was announced. Mel B, Mel C, Geri Halliwell, and Emma Bunton joined together for the Spice World tour in 2019.

More recently in 2021, Mel B was the Seahorse in the Masked Singer and finished in 11th place. In the same year, she was also Medusa in the Spanish version of the Masked Singer.

Then in May 2021, Melanie and Fabio D’Andrea decided to join forces. She acted in his short film called “Love Should Not Hurt” which was made in support of women’s aid.

In 2022, Mel B was appointed MBE in the New Year Honours for her services to charitable events and vulnerable women. She was also appointed as tourism ambassador from the UK to Nevis in the same year.

Mel B and her direct style is well known in the judging and music industry. Starting out in one of the biggest all-girl pop bands of all time, she continues to be a welcome addition to our screens.