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Stars That Died

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Who is Melanie Janine Brown?

Who is Melanie Janine Brown? The music world knows her as "Mel B". She is an British singer-songwriter, actress, author and television presenter. She is best known as one of the members of the girl group the Spice Girls. She was given the nickname "Scary Spice" by the British media because of her outrageous, "in-your-face" attitude, thick Leeds accent, throaty laugh and manner of dress.

Brown was born 29 May 1975 in Harehills, and grew up in Burley, Leeds, West Yorkshire. She has a younger sister named Danielle who is an actress. She 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. After the group achieved worldwide success, she embarked on a solo music career in 1998. Her first solo album, Hot, produced by Virgin Records, was a moderate success, including a number one hit. However, it did not sell or chart very well. In 2005, she released a second solo album which did not attract much attention.

Musical career

1994-2001: Scary Spice

In 1996 Brown, along with Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, and Victoria Beckham (at that time Victoria Adams), shot to fame as a member of the Spice Girls with the release of "Wannabe". The debut album, Spice, shot to number one all over the globe, including the U.S.. Mel B was called Scary Spice because of her animal print clothing, big hair, loud Leeds accent, throaty laugh, and aggressive attitude. The Spice Girls were popular in the late 1990s, selling over thirty-five million albums in just two years. They went on to become one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, selling more than fifty-five million records worldwide. They had nine UK number-one singles and two number-one albums. After a third album release, Forever (UK number-two), the members went their separate ways, and Brown developed a solo career.

Solo Artist As a solo artist Melanie B has charted up five UK Top 20 singles, including two Top 5 hits and a number 1 hit. She has sold over half a million records.

1998-1999: Early solo work

At the height of the Spice Girls' success, Brown was invited to work with Missy Elliott on the single "I Want You Back", a song for the soundtrack of the film Why Do Fools Fall in Love. It was recorded in just one afternoon, due to Brown's busy Spice Girls schedule. The video featured Brown's then husband Jimmy Gulzar, who appeared chained and submissive to his wife. Upon its British release in September 1998, I Want You Back sold 80,000 copies in its first week alone, giving Brown her first and only solo #1 in her home country. This was confirmed on the day that the Spice Girls played their last world tour concert at Wembley Stadium in front of 52,000 fans. Ultimately the single sold 218,000 copies and became the 82nd Bestselling British Single of 1998.

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 notable for being produced by Timbaland. The track was already released on the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. This resulted in its flopping in the UK (peaking at #14), making it the lowest charting Spice Girls related single of the 90s. The European video was a surreal animation, directed by Jimmy. A further video was shot which featured the mini me character from Austin Powers. The track was not included on Brown's UK version of her debut solo album, and speaking at the time of her album release she stated that she "didn't really like 'Word Up".

Following the disappointing performance of Word Up , Brown stopped releasing records for a while, but worked quietly on tracks for her debut solo album and the third Spice Girls album. 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.

2000-2001: Hot

As a way of dealing with the problems of her marriage, Brown continued working on her debut solo album. She worked with producers such as Sisqo, Teddy Riley, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Prince), with whom she was also working on the Spice Girls' third album, Forever.

In September 2000, she said that she heard the first single release from the album, "Tell Me". The track debuted at #4 in the UK charts with about 40,000 copies sold in its first week. It finally sold approximately 100,000 copies, making it the 158th "best seller" of 2000. The album, Hot, was released one month later on 3 October, was not a success and garnered mediocre reviews.It sold a disappointing 7,419 copies in its first week and charted at a weak #28, before quickly falling out of the charts.

Following the release of "Feels So Good", rumours began that if her next single flopped she would be dropped by her record company, Virgin Records. In May, Brown performed a small set at the London G-A-Y Astoria club, her only solo gig until 2004. A source said her introduction was too long, which prompted cries of "get on with it!" from the G-A-Y patrons. A third single was released in June 2001, "Lullaby", a pop number dedicated to her daughter. It was accompanied by a very simple 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 a disappointing #13, and Virgin duly dumped Brown from their label.

2004-2005: L.A. State of Mind

In April 2004, Brown was approached to take part in the musical Rent. She played the role of Mimi Marquez and achieved positive reviews, but not from the show's fanbase. A few weeks after Brown finished her Rent stint, she played her second and last solo gig to date in a New York club, performing some songs from the musical and showcasing some new material she had written. As the songs received positive feedback, 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. Brown had stated it was just a gift to her fans, and minus a few small appearances no promotion was made. "Today" entered the singles chart at #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 LA. The album fared even worse than its lead single, selling just 670 copies in its first week and charting at #453

Rumours of a second single were fuelled by "Beautiful Girl" bouncing around on the UK Singles Release Schedule for a couple of months. Allegedly a video was made, but due to the poor sales of both the previous single and the album, this release never materialised. Brown was not dropped from Amber Café; both parties decided to amicably part ways. 2008-present: Third studio album

Brown revealed in June 2008 that she was recording tracks for a new album she expected to have ready for release late 2008. "It's an R&B-pop kind of thing, a cross between early Pink and Destiny's Child. Urban pop. That's what I do best, where I come from, what people know me for, I've recorded four songs so far with some really great people," she said. One of the producers behind the album was Rodney Jerkins, aka Darkchild, who previously worked with Brown on the Spice Girls' final studio album, Forever, as well as on Melanie's first solo album, Hot, both released in 2000. Also Scott Storch revealed he was working on Brown’s album.Brown later revealed that she had completed ten tracks and would be working with Lil' Kim for the possible first single. Brown made a brief appearance on British morning show GMTV and announced that she would be releasing a fitness DVD, and then continued to say the new album was not ready yet and said the expected arrival of the album would be in 2009. A track from those recording sessions called "Whose Is It" leaked in 2008 but Melanie later said that this track won't be on the album. At the end of 2009 Melanie had 15 songs recorded but due to legal problems concerning a guy who was working with her she was not able to release them. In early 2010 Brown stated that she started to work on new tracks. As of April 2010 she has recorded 3 new songs. In the next 2 or 3 months she will concentrate on writing and recording new music.

Non-musical works

From Melanie B 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 which got many good reviews. 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.

In 2002, Brown released her hit autobiography, Catch A Fire, which reached #7 in the official books chart and saw her touring the UK to promote it with a run of book signings.

In her autobiography "Catch a Fire" Brown talked about how she loses interest in her passions with time. She lost interest in dancing once she found music (with the Spice Girls), and after her album failed to meet expectations she found herself not interested in making another. With that she turned to acting. Outside of SpiceWorld and 'Fish' Brown's first real 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 2004. She acted in a long run of shows as part of the cast for the Vagina Monologues which was a big success in the UK. She was in the movie The Seat Filler, co-produced by Will Smith and starring Destiny's Child star Kelly Rowland. Melanie also appeared as Mimi in the broadway production of Rent.

In recent years, Brown has also been seen playing herself in episodes of the comedy series Bo' Selecta and A Bear's Tail. In 2003, Brown made a cameo appearance in the music video Bo Selecta's Proper Crimbo. In late 2007, she hosted a television special for Canada's MuchMoreMusic called Your Fave Videos of the 80's.

Dancing with the Stars

Following an appearance in the short film Love Thy Neighbor, in September 2007, Brown joined the fifth season of the U.S. television hit Dancing with the Stars with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The pair was the highest scoring couple during the season and made it to the finals. On 27 November 2007, in the season finale, although they had a perfect score on their final dance, they took second place in the show.


Week # Dance/Song Judges' score Result
Inaba Goodman Tonioli
1 Cha cha cha/ "A Deeper Love"

8 8 8 Safe
2 Quickstep/ "Take on Me"

7 8 8 Safe
3 Jive/ "Sweet Soul Music"

9 9 9 Safe
4 Viennese Waltz/ "Breakaway"

8 9 9 Bottom two
5 Samba/ "Spice Up Your Life"

10 9 10 Safe
6 Rumba/ "A Woman's Worth"

10 10 10 Safe
7 Foxtrot/ "Jimmy Mack"
Paso Doble/ "Free Your Mind"

8 Tango/ "Personal Jesus"
Mambo/ "Mambo Jambo"

Viennese Waltz/ "Somebody to Love"

Paso Doble/ "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
Cha cha cha/ "Car Wash"
Freestyle/ "The Way I Are"

Mambo/ "Mambo Jambo"
Second place

Current projects

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.

It is unknown when Brown will release her next album, some reports suggest that Brown will be taking a break after the peepshow tour and possibly release her new album after the hiatus.

On August 17 2009, Brown was announced as a visiting panelist on ITV1's daily lunchtime show Loose Women, having been interviewed on the program in the past. She appeared for a week of shows during September 2009.

In September 2009, Brown took part in the filming of ITV1 series 'Seven Days on the Breadline,' during which she spent part of a week staying with a family living in poverty in Leeds, UK. In the program she received criticism from the family for not spending enough time with them and for returning to the house in the early hours of the morning after nights out. Subsequently Brown wrote an article in the tabloid paper The Mail on Sunday, titled 'My Week in Apathy City.'

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".

Personal life

Following her rise to fame, Brown had a long relationship with Icelandic Fjolnir Thorgeirsson and a short relationship with Australian singer Peter Andre in 1996.

While on the Spiceworld Tour, Brown began a romantic relationship with Dutch dancer Jimmy Gulzar. They married in Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire, on 13 September 1998; Mel B changed her stage name to 'Melanie G'. Their only child together, daughter Phoenix Chi, was born in Westminster, London, on 19 February 1999, this made her the first Spice Girl to become a mother. Marital problems ensued, including allegations of abusive and inattentive behaviour by Gulzar, and the marriage collapsed by the end of 1999. In 2000 Brown filed for divorce, which was finalized later that year. The custody battle for her daughter was highly publicised; Brown won custody, but had to pay a large alimony settlement of £1.25m to her ex-husband.

Brown's next serious relationship was with British actor Max Beesley, from whom she split in 2002. In 2003 Brown moved to Los Angeles, California with her daughter Phoenix stating that she planned to live there permanently. In 2006, Brown became the subject of many tabloid stories, on the basis of her relationship with Hollywood actor Eddie Murphy. Unconfirmed stories quickly came that the pair had tattoos of each other's names, were planning a wedding, and had introduced each other to their respective families. On 17 October 2006 AOL claimed that Brown was in fact having a baby by Murphy.Brown was quoted as saying: "We're in love and get on really well. All the children have met and get on too - it's like a great big happy family. I can't wait to spend Christmas with him and I can't wait to have this baby."

In early December 2006, news came that 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 has been performed, stating: "I don't know whose child that is until it comes out and has a blood test. You shouldn't jump to conclusions, sir." Brown gave birth to Angel Iris Murphy, on 3 April 2007, which coincidentally is also Murphy's birthday. Murphy was listed as the father on the birth certificate despite the ongoing paternity battle. On 22 June 2007, People magazine reported the results of a court-ordered DNA test, confirming through Brown's publicist that Murphy was indeed the father of Brown's baby. Murphy has since admitted paternity. Brown indicated her feelings about Murphy, stating: "The less said about the Beverly Hills Cock the better."

In February 2007, Brown began dating long term friend and movie producer Stephen Belafonte. Brown and Belafonte quietly married on 6 June 2007, in Las Vegas, Nevada. They renewed their vows in a marriage ceremony in Egypt on 8 November 2008.



Year Album Peak Chart Positions
UK[28] Brazil Austria IRL ITA FRA
2000 Hot 28 5 132 67 55 168
2005 LA State Of Mind - - - - - -


Year Title Chart positions[29][30][31][32] Album
1998 "I Want You Back" (featuring Missy Elliott)

1999 "Word Up"
2000 "Tell Me"

2001 "Feels So Good"


2005 "Today"

L.A. State of Mind


  • 2009: Totally Fit


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