Melanie Janine Brown (born 29 May 1975), better known as Mel B or Melanie B, is a British recording artist, songwriter, dancer, actress, author, television presenter, talent competition judge and model. Brown rose to fame as a member of the girl group the Spice Girls, in which she was known as Scary Spice. She is known as Mel B to distinguish her from her Spice Girls bandmate, Melanie C.
The Spice Girls signed to Virgin Records and in 1996 they released their debut single, "Wannabe", which hit number one in more than 30 countries and helped establish the group as a "global phenomenon". It was followed by their debut album, Spice, which has sold more than 28 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling album by a female group in music history. The band's second album, Spiceworld, went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide. As of 2013, the Spice Girls have sold over 100 million albums worldwide, making them the biggest selling female group in history and also one of the best-selling music artists in the world. Brown is also known for supporting girl power and earlier global tours, which grossed an estimated $500-800 million between 1996 and 2001.The Return of the Spice Girls was the band's comeback tour throughout 2007 and 2008, having grossed US$200 million and winning the Billboard 2008 Touring Award. As of July 2013, Brown's net worth is estimated to be $85 million.
Brown began her solo career when she released "I Want You Back" with Missy Elliott on Virgin Records. The single charted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, followed by the release of her debut album, Hot (2000). The album also saw the release of two top 10 singles "Tell Me" and "Feels So Good". L.A. State of Mind was Brown's second studio album, released in 2005 on the independent label Amber Café, which saw the release of one single, "Today" in June that year. In mid-2012, Brown announced a return to her solo recording career with the release of her third studio album by signing with EMI Music Australia. The scope of the deal with EMI office includes concessions for global partnering with EMI. The first single from the album, "For Once in My Life" was released in September 2013, becoming Brown's first record to be released after eight years.
Since 2000, Brown has concentrated on a variety of non-singing projects. She became the presenter of shows such as This Is My Moment, Top of the Pops, Party in the Park and The All Star Animal Awards. In September 2007, she became a contestant on the fifth season of the American dance competition, Dancing with the Stars; in which she placed runner-up overall partnered with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Brown returned to television work becoming a judge for the Australian version of The X Factor from 2011 to 2012, replacing Kyle Sandilands and having previously been a celebrity mentor on the show in 2010. In June 2012, she was a guest judge during the Manchester auditions for the ninth series of The X Factor UK, as one of the temporary replacements for Kelly Rowland; before the role eventually went to Nicole Scherzinger.
During this time, she became the female co-host for Dancing with the Stars Australia, in which she hosted the twelfth season alongside Daniel MacPherson. However, Brown resigned from the show and did not return for the thirteenth season in 2013. In February that year, she officially signed on to become one of the four judges for the variety talent show America's Got Talent, replacing Sharon Osbourne from the eighth season onwards. On 1 February 2014, she was revealed to be a coach on The Voice Kids Australia, which aired in mid-2014.
Melanie Janine Brown was born in Harehills, Leeds and grew up in Burley, West Yorkshire, the daughter of Andrea (Dixon) and Martin Brown. Her father is from the Caribbean island country of Saint Kitts and Nevis; while her mother is English.
Brown studied performing arts at Intake High School, in Leeds, before entering the entertainment industry. For a time, she worked as a dancer in the holiday resort, Blackpool, Lancashire. After seeing an advertisement for an audition in a newspaper, Brown started her music career in a band known as Touch. The group left the original management team and eventually teamed up with music manager Simon Fuller. In this pairing, she and the other girls became known as the Spice Girls.
Brown, along with Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, and Victoria Adams responded to an advertisement in The Stage magazine. Around about 400 women who answered the ad went to Dance Works studios. At Brown's audition she sang "Greatest Love of All". Brown, Chisholm (who did not attend), Adams, and a few others got a callback. The group felt insecure about the lack of a contract and was frustrated by the direction in which Heart Management was steering them. In October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, the group began touring management agencies. They persuaded Bob Herbert to set up a showcase performance for the group in front of industry writers, producers and A&R men in December 1994 at the Nomis Studios in Shepherd's Bush where they received an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction.
Due to the large interest in the group, the Herberts quickly set about creating a binding contract for the group. Encouraged by the reaction they had received at the Nomis showcase, all five members delayed signing contracts on the legal advice from, amongst others, Adams' father Anthony Adams. In March 1995, because of the group's frustration at their management's unwillingness to listen to their visions and ideas, they parted with Heart Management. The group began a relationship with Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment and finally signed with him in March 1995. During the summer of that year the group toured record labels in London and Los Angeles with Fuller and finally signed a deal with Virgin Records in September 1995. From this point on, up to the summer of 1996, the group continued to write and record tracks for their debut album while extensively touring the west coast of the United States, where they had signed a publishing deal with Windswept Pacific. On 7 June 1996, the Spice Girls released their debut single "Wannabe" in the United Kingdom. In the weeks leading up to the release, the video for "Wannabe", got a trial airing on The Box music channel. The song proved to be a global hit, reaching number 1 in 29 countries. and becoming the biggest-selling single by an all-female group of all time. It was followed by nine further number-1 singles from their albums Spice, Spiceworld and Forever. Each member of the group received a nickname from the media. Brown was named "Scary Spice".
The group is currently the best-selling girl group of all time selling 75 million records which also makes the group one of the best-selling music artists After the release of their third album, Forever (UK number 2), which was far less successful than their previous two albums, the Spice Girls stopped recording and the members began their solo careers.
2000-05: Hot, L.A. State of Mind, and Rent:
Before the split of the Spice Girls, Brown went onto release music with Virgin Records, the label who she was signed to when a member of the Spice Girls. "I Want You Back" was released as the first official single from the album, which charted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and also had success around the globe. The song was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Why Do Fools Fall in Love. The single itself sold 218,000 copies and became the 82nd Bestselling British Single of 1998. While recording the album, Brown worked with producers such as Sisqó, Teddy Riley, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Prince), with whom she was also working on the Spice Girls' third album, Forever. Brown's debut album, Hot was released in November 2000, a month before the Spice Girls final album, Forever was released. At the suggestion of her then-husband Jimmy Gulzar, Brown covered Cameo's 1986 hit "Word Up" as her next solo release. The track was already released on the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. The song charted poorly, peaking at fourteen on the UK Singles Chart making it the lowest-charting Spice Girls-related single of the 90s. Turning to television work, she hosted Pure Naughty, a weekly BBC2 magazine show focusing on black music. She also hosted the MOBO Awards on two occasions, in 1998 with Bill Bellamy and in 1999 with Wyclef Jean, and took part in a BBC-funded short film entitled Fish.
From 2000, Brown concentrated on a variety of non-singing projects. She hosted a number of TV shows such as This Is My Moment (a talent show) for ITV1 and shot a documentary called Voodoo Princess for Channel 4. She took part in smaller projects as a presenter such as Top of the Pops, Party in the Park for The Prince's Trust and The All Star Animal Awards. She has appeared as herself in an advert for the Yorkshire tourist board in a series which included contributions from other Yorkshire-born celebrities, and in the film Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde.
The third single from the album, "Tell Me", which debuted at No. 4 in the UK charts, with about 40,000 copies sold in its first week of release. It sold approximately 100,000 copies, making it the 158th "best seller" of 2000. A fourth single was released in February 2001, "Feels So Good" which had peaked at No. 5, followed by a fifth single, "Lullaby", a pop number dedicated to her daughter. It was accompanied by a video shot in Morocco and featured Brown with Phoenix Chi. The media criticised Brown for using her child in the music video and single artwork, labelling her Desperate Spice and insinuating that she was exploiting her child as a marketing tool. The single entered and peaked at No. 13. The album was not a success and garnered mediocre reviews, selling a disappointing 7,419 copies in its first week and charting at a weak No. 28 leading to Virgin dumping Brown from their label. In 2002, Brown released her autobiography, Catch a Fire, which reached No. 7 in the official books chart, and saw her touring the UK to promote it with a run of book signings.
In April 2004, Brown was approached to take part in the musical Rent in the role of Mimi Marquez. A few weeks after Brown finished her Rent stint, she played her second gig, performing some songs from the musical and showcasing some new material she had written. Brown decided to release them a year later through an independent label, Amber Café. The only single from the album, "Today", saw a UK release in June 2005. "Today" entered the singles chart at No. 41, selling around 1,000 copies in its first week. The album, LA State of Mind, was released on 27 June 2005 in two formats: as a regular CD and as a Limited Edition with a 30-minute DVD documentary detailing Brown's life in Los Angeles. In a scathing review, AllMusic stated that this album was one of the worst pop albums of the decade. The album was also released with a bonus DVD featuring an in-depth documentary filmed and directed by Mark McConnell. One of the producers which had worked with Brown's album was Rodney Jerkins, aka Darkchild, who previously worked with Brown while in the Spice Girls.
Brown's first movie role came in the form of a British drama, Burn It. She appeared in a horror film entitled, LD 50 Lethal Dose, which was released directly to DVD in 2005. She acted in a long run of shows as part of the cast for The Vagina Monologues. She was in the movie The Seat Filler, co-produced by Will Smith and starring Destiny's Child star Kelly Rowland. In 2005, she had a leading role in the thriller Telling Lies, released to DVD the following year.
2007-12: Spice Girls reunion, The X Factor Australia, and other projects:
Following an appearance in the short film Love Thy Neighbor, in September 2007, Brown joined the fifth season of the U.S. television dance competition, Dancing with the Stars with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. On 27 November 2007, they took second place in the show, losing to Helio Castroneves and his partner, Julianne Hough.
That year, the Spice Girls re-grouped and announced plans for an reunion tour, from which they were said to have earned £10 million each (approximately $20 million). The band said that they are still enjoying doing their "own thing". The group decided to release their first compilation album, Greatest Hits, in early November 2007 and the tour began on 2 December 2007. During one Spice Girls performance at London's The O2 Arena, the band's children, including Brown's children accompanied her on stage during "Mama", along with the other Spice Girls' children. During the reformation filmmaker Bob Smeaton directed an official film of the tour entitled Spice Girls: Giving You Everything. As well as their sell-out tour, the Spice Girls were contracted to appear in Tesco advertisements, for which they were paid £1 million each.
In April 2009, Brown joined actress and former Dancing with the Stars champion Kelly Monaco as original stars of a Las Vegas revue called Peepshow at the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino. On 17 August 2009, Brown was announced as a visiting panellist on ITV1's daily lunchtime show Loose Women. She appeared for a week of shows during September 2009. In January 2010, Brown was selected to replace Marissa Jaret Winokur as the new host of Oxygen's weight loss show Dance Your Ass Off. In September 2010, her own reality show aired on the Style Network called Mel B: It's a Scary World. In November 2010, Get Fit with Mel B, was released in North America and Europe. Brown served as a celebrity mentor on the second series of the Australian version of The X Factor during week 8 of the live shows in 2010. During the results show, she performed a duet with the remaining five acts singing "Stop" originally by the Spice Girls.
In April 2011, it was announced that Brown would replace Kyle Sandilands as a judge for the third series of the Australian version of The X Factor alongside Ronan Keating, Guy Sebastian and fellow new judge Natalie Bassingthwaighte (who replaced Natalie Imbruglia). For her first series on the show, she was given the Under 25 Girls category. In February 2012, Brown was announced to replace Sonia Kruger as co-host on the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars. It was announced on 24 February that Brown was planning on releasing the second season of It's a Scary World in summer 2012. Brown also revealed that the Spice Girls will be having some projects later in the year dealing with the musical. On 31 March, it was announced that Brown signed a global partnership with EMI Music Australia for the release of her third studio album. Brown returned for the fourth series of The X Factor and mentored the Under 25 Boys category. Her act Jason Owen reached the final, but finished in second place after losing out to Samantha Jade, mentored by Guy Sebastian. In June 2012, it was confirmed that Brown would become a guest judge for the Manchester auditions of the British version of The X Factor alongside Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Tulisa Contostavlos.
2013-present: America's Got Talent, The Voice Kids, The X Factor UK, and third album:
On 20 February 2013, NBC had announced that Brown would be replacing Sharon Osbourne as a judge on America's Got Talent for its eighth season, alongside Howie Mandel, Howard Stern and fellow new judge Heidi Klum. During her time on the program, she should frequently be a guest host for NBC's Today Show. It was confirmed in March 2013 that Brown would judge Australia's Got Talent along with fellow Brit Dawn French. The same month, it was confirmed that Brown would not return as a judge for the fifth series of The X Factor due to her commitments with Australia's Got Talent. Brown was replaced by Dannii Minogue.
On 9 April 2013, the Australian Associated Press reported that Brown was off the chain and banned from judging on Australia's Got Talent after Seven, the Australian TV network that airs The X Factor, filed suit to prevent Brown from appearing on any rival networks. The judge ruled that Brown was still under contract with Seven until January 2014, thus preventing her from appearing on a program aired by another network until after that date. The Nine Network confirmed rumours on 29 April that they had hired former fellow Spice Girl Geri Halliwell to replace Brown. She had a small part in the final episode of the ITV2 drama series Secret Diary of a Call Girl. In 2013, she returned to acting in the Lifetime movie Twelve Trees of Christmas. From August to September 2013, she became a judge on the televised dancing show, Stepping Out, alongside choreographers Wayne Sleep and Jason Gardiner. That month, Brown released her first single in eight years, "For Once in My Life", from her untitled and unreleased third studio album. The single peaked at No.2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs charts.
In February 2014, it was announced that she would become a coach on the Australian version of The Voice Kids, alongside singers Joel Madden and Delta Goodrem. In June, Brown was confirmed as the fourth judge for the eleventh series of the British version of The X Factor, replacing Nicole Scherzinger. It was rumoured that she would be joined by fellow Spice Girls member Victoria Beckham for the judges' houses stage of The X Factor. However, this proved to be false as member, Emma Bunton, also known as Baby Spice, joined her in Cancun, Mexico. In December 2014, it was announced that Brown would miss The X Factor final due to illness. She was replaced by Tulisa Contostavlos. However, she did return the following results show. Brown's final male act, Andrea Faustini placed third.
It was also revealed that she would return to the upcoming second series of The Voice Kids, starting earlier in 2015. Brown is currently a daily guest co-host on the Breakfast program on Sydney radio station 2Day FM, alongside Jules Lund, Merrick Watts and Sophie Monk. Brown's and co-hosts replaced top hosts Kyle and Jackie O who moved to KIIS 106.5 taking majority of audience, leaving 2Day FM with the least listened to station in Sydney. On 16 June 2015, it was confirmed that Brown would not return for the twelfth series of The X Factor.
While on the Spiceworld Tour, Brown began a romantic relationship with Dutch dancer Jimmy Gulzar. After she became pregnant they married in Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire, on 13 September 1998. Mel B changed her stage name to Melanie G. Their daughter, Phoenix Chi Gulzar, was born in Westminster, London on 19 February 1999. In 2000 Brown filed for divorce, which was finalised later that year. Gulzar claimed Brown's breast implants and adultery were the reason for their breakup. Brown won custody but had to pay an alimony settlement of $2.8m to her ex-husband.
She was in a four-year relationship with a woman in Los Angeles.
In 2006 Brown became the subject of tabloid stories because of her relationship with Hollywood actor Eddie Murphy, who would eventually acknowledge he was the father of Brown's then unborn second child, Angel. By early December 2006, Brown and Murphy were no longer a couple and Murphy told a journalist of the Dutch TV show RTL Boulevard at the Dreamgirls film premiere that the parentage of Brown's unborn baby could not be proven until a paternity test was performed. By 22 June 2007, a court-ordered DNA test confirmed that Murphy was the child's father. Murphy admitted paternity and indicated that he would reimburse Brown for the cost of the pregnancy and agreed to pay her over $7 million.
In February 2007 Brown began dating film producer Stephen Belafonte. Brown and Belafonte secretly married on 6 June 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and they subsequently renewed their vows with a lavish ceremony in front of their families on 8 November 2008 in Hurghada, Egypt. On 1 September 2011 Brown gave birth to her third child, daughter Madison Brown Belafonte.
On 8 December 2014, it was revealed Brown was blinded in one eye after a botched laser eye surgery 15 years prior to the reveal.
This Is My Moment
Avid Merrion's Xxxmas Special
Dancing with the Stars
Giving You Everything
Step It Up and Dance
1 episode: "A Scary Surprise"
Miss Universe 2008
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Dance Your Ass Off
Mel B: It's a Scary World
Secret Diary of a Call Girl
The X Factor Australia
Herself/Celebrity guest mentor,
Season 2, Seasons 3 to 4
Dancing with the Stars
Britain & Ireland's Next Top Model
The X Factor UK
2012: Guest judge at auditions in Manchester,
The Spice Girls Story: Viva Forever!
Documentary for ITV about the Spice Girls
America's Got Talent
Since season 8
Miss Universe 2013
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Special Guest Performer
The Voice Kids
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year
Partnered with Mickey Flanagan
Razzie Award for Worst Actress,
Nominated - Razzie Award for Worst New Star,
Nominated - Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actress,
Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Comedy
LD 50 Lethal Dose
The Seat Filler
Love Thy Neighbor
Twelve Trees of Christmas
Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
RuPaul's Drag Race
Mel B (Guest Judge)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license