Melanie Janine Brown (born 29 May 1975) is a British R&B and pop recording artist, songwriter, dancer, actress, author, television presenter and model. Brown rose to fame as a member of the Brit-pop girl group the Spice Girls, in which she was famously known as Scary Spice and is also known colloquially as Mel B.
The Spice Girls signed to Virgin Records and released their debut single, "Wannabe", which hit number 1 in more than 30 countries and helped establish the group as a "global phenomenon". It was followed by their debut album, Spice, which 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 world wide. As of 2013, the Spice Girls have sold over 75 million records 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 their global grosses estimated at $500–800 million between 1996 and 1998. Return of the Spice Girls was the band's comeback turn and said to have grossed US$100 million and won the Billboard 2008 Touring Award. Her net worth as of August 2012 is estimated to be £40.5m.
Brown began her solo career when she released "I Want You Back" with Missy Elliott on Virgin Records. The single charted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, followed by the release ofdebut album, Hot—the album also saw release of 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, and saw the release of only one single—"Today". 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 the Australian EMI office includes concessions for global partnering with EMI.
Brown returned to television in 2011 when she joined the judging panel of the Australian version of The X Factor where she sat alongside Ronan Keating, Guy Sebastian and Natalie Bassingthwaighte. She later became the co-presenter of the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars. It was later announced that Brown would appear as a guest judge on the UK's version of The X Factor after a replacement for Kelly Rowland had not yet been found. In February 2013, it was announced that Brown was hired as a judge on the variety talent show America's Got Talent. In March 2013, it was announced that Brown was also hired as a judge on the variety talent show Australia's Got Talent.
Brown was born in Harehills, Leeds, England, to an English mother, Andrea, and a black Nevisian father, Martin, and grew up in Burley, Leeds, West Yorkshire. She has a younger sister named Danielle, who is an actress.
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.
"WANTED: R.U. 18–23 with the ability to sing/dance? R.U. streetwise, outgoing, ambitious, and dedicated? Heart Management Ltd. are a widely successful music industry management consortium currently forming a choreographed, singing/dancing, all-female pop act for a recording deal. Open audition. Danceworks, 16 Balderton Street. Friday 4 March. 11 am-5:30 pm. Please bring sheet music or backing cassette"—Heart Mangement Ltd.
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 video was an instant hit, and was played 502 times a week. After the video was released, the Spice Girls had their first live TV slot on broadcast on LWT's Surprise Surprise. 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 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 to begin their solo careers.
2000–05: Hot and L.A. State of MindEdit
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 sold 218,000 copies and became the 82nd Bestselling British Single of 1998. While recording the album, Brown 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. 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.
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. 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 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 herDesperate 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, before quickly falling out of the charts, leading to Virgin dumping Brown from their label.
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.
2007–present: Return of the Spice Girls and reality television judgingEdit
In 2007, the Spice Girls re-grouped and announced planns 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 albums their "Greatest Hits" album was released in early November 2007 and the tour began on 2 December 2007. During one Spice Girls performance at London's The O2 Arena, the bands children, including Brown's children accompanied her on stage during "Mama", along with the other Spice Girls' children. During the reformation Film maker Bob Smeaton directed an official film of the tour entitledSpice 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 2011, Brown returned to the spotlight and joined the judging panel of the Australian version of The X Factor, for its third series which began airing in September 2011 on the Seven Network. Brown had previously served as a celebrity mentor on its second season during week 8 back in 2010. In February 2012, Brown was also 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 2012, it was announced that Brown signed a global partnership with EMI Music Australia for the release of her third studio album. In June 2012, it was confirmed that Brown would become a guest judge for the Manchester auditions of The X Factor UK. On 20 February 2013, NBC announced that Brown would be replacing Sharon Osbourne as a judge on America's Got Talent. It was confirmed in March 2013 that Brown would judge Australia's Got Talent along with fellow Brit Dawn French.