Mel B

The Spice Girls were loud, independent, feisty and fearless - and perhaps no one personified 'Girl Power' more than irrepressible 'Scary Spice', aka Melanie Brown. A larger-than-life lass from Leeds with a penchant for leopard-print clothes and voluminous hair, Mel bounced her way into the nation's conscience as one fifth of the phenomenally successful girl band.

Born on May 29, 1975, Melanie Janine Brown was always a live-wire.

She grew up in a mixed-race household in Leeds, the daughter of English mother Andrea and former Caribbean island of Nevis resident Martin.

As a youngster, the wannabe pop star frequently skipped school to attend auditions and dance rehearsals. That was before she spotted the now legendary advert in The Stage, of course. "R U 18-23 with the ability to sing/dance? R U streetwise, ambitious, outgoing and determined?" it read.

As far as Mel was concerned the answer was a resounding yes. And when the Spice Girls were finalised in 1995 she was in the line-up alongside Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams, Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm .

The group enjoyed incredible success and became a pop music phenomenen, before in 1998 - Geri Halliwell's decision to quit marked a turning point for the band. The year was a significant one for Mel personally, too, She married dancer Jimmy Gulzar, and became pregnant with the couple's daughter, Phoenix Chi.

The pair's relationship ran into trouble, however, and a year later they went their separate ways. In 2000 the singer appeared to have found a new love with British actor Max Beesley, with whom she enjoyed a much-hyped romance. But the pair called time on their relationship after two years. On the professional front things were also winding down. While the four remaining Spices continued recording and performing together for a while, in February 2001 they finally announced their split.

Like bandmate Mel C, Melanie enjoyed a degree of solo success following the break-up, snagging the number one spot with Missy Elliot R&B collaboration I Want You Back. The release of her first solo album Hot followed, with the singer soon after relocating to Los Angeles, where she owns an artist's loft and a traditional two-bedroom house in the Hills.

Although she released another album, LA State Of Mind in 2005, Mel's interests were moving on. As she explains in her autobiography Catch A Fire, her enthusiasms are constantly developing. In the same way her passion for dance waned once she"d discovered music, she found she was no longer interested in making more albums when her latest failed to meet expectations.

Looking to new horizons, she ventured into acting, an area she'd already explored before moving to California, having made her small screen debut in Manchester drama Burn It. The multi-talented celeb has also turned her hand to writing, declining Bob Geldof's suggestion to re-form the Spice Girls for Live 8 because she wanted to concentrate on penning her sit-com.

The move Stateside brought Mel a different circle of friends, and the singer admits to enjoying life on the other side of the pond. "I like it. I have a great group of English friends," she says. "Phoenix has a great time. She's at a great school and it's an outdoor life for both of us, very freeing and laid back."

Her new base also brought love, after she bumped into Hollywood comedian Eddie Murphy at a party in Beverly Hills. The two began an intense love affair which generated marriage and happily-ever-after headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. Their relationship came to an abrupt halt, however, when six-months-pregnant Mel learnt that her beau had informed a Dutch TV channel they'd split up and was questioning the identity of the baby's father. Mel gave birth to a baby girl, named Angel Iris Murphy Brown, on April 3, 2007.

Despite a high-profile paternity battle with Eddie, it seemed there was still a happy ending in store for Mel on the romance front.

Just two months after giving birth to Angel, long-time friend and film producer Stephen Belafonte proposed. "I took one big, deep breath and said, 'Yes'," she told HELLO! magazine, "as well as going, 'Thank you, God! Don't let me down a third time'." The pair wed in Las Vegas on June 6, 2007.

Mel B and husband Stephen Belafonte united for family Christmas

Mel B was united with her husband of seven years Stephen Belafonte for Christmas Day, after the pair had been surrounded by rumours in the lead-up to the festive period.The...

Top pick of Christmas celebrity snaps

From Kim Kardashian's throwback picture of herself and her sisters when they were little, Giovanna Fletcher's "Christmas kiss" with her adorable tot Buzz, Mel B's family Christmas selfie and Cara...

Mel B maintains dignified silence amid rumours of marriage breakdown

Mel B has maintained a dignified silence following rumours that she has left her husband of seven years, Stephen Belafonte. The X Factor judge, who is normally active on both...

Latest photos of Mel B

Stephen Belafonte asks fans to stop being negative about Mel B's X Factor appearance

Mel B got a warm welcome on her return to the X Factor after being rushed to hospital, desperately ill on Thursday. A huge cheer went up when the former...

Ben Haenow is crowned winner of the X Factor

Ben Haenow took the X Factor fcrown on Sunday night's final results show. The former van driver was stunned when Dermot O’Leary announced the results."I just can’t believe it!" said...

Tulisa Contostavlos to replace ill Mel B on Saturday's X Factor

Mel B will not be taking part in Saturday night's X Factor show. ITV have confirmed that due to illness the former Spice Girl will miss the programme and be...

Andrea Faustini is voted out of The X Factor finale

Andrea Faustini has been voted out of the X Factor 2014 final. After Fleur East and Ben Haenow were sent through to Sunday's final, the Italian student praised the show...

Fears that Mel B will miss X Factor finals after being struck down with mystery illness

There are concerns that Mel B could miss the final of The X Factor this weekend after being struck down with a mystery illness. With just one day to go...

X Factor finalists ready to win after recording winner's singles

The three X Factor finalists have already recorded their winner's singles, which are tipped to be "sure-fire hits". Fleur East and Ben Haenow have both recorded the One Republic track...

Mel B reveals baby plans exclusively to HELLO!

X Factor judge Mel B has given an exclusive interview to HELLO! magazine in which she reveals her plans for a fourth child. Posing with her husband Stephen Belafonte and...

Lauren Platt leaves the X Factor semi finals

Lauren Platt was voted out of The X Factor on Sunday's semi finals, after an emotional sing off with Andrea Faustini. The 17-year-old thanked her mentor before the remaining finalists...

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Mel B 'haven't fallen out'

The X Factor presenter Dermot O'Leary has insisted that there is no rivalry between Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Mel B. The two female judges came head to head in last week's...

Stereo Kicks are voted off the X Factor

Stereo Kicks were voted off the X Factor on Sunday after performing in the sing-off against Lauren Platt. The competition saw the remaining five acts being reduced down to four...

Competition heats up in X Factor's Jukebox Night

The X Factor’s Jukebox night kicked off on Saturday with the celebrities choosing the songs for the final five acts. First to the mic was Ben Haenow whose skyped One...

Stevi Ritchie leaves the X Factor before thanking "best friend" Simon Cowell

Stevi Ritchie was the second act to leave The X Factor this weekend as Sunday's episode saw him and Andrea Faustini in the sing-off.We're saying goodbye to the lovely -...

Only The Young leave the X Factor's double elimination weekend

Only The Young were the first act to leave The X Factor this weekend, after receiving the fewest votes of the night. Louis Walsh praised the group's achievements before adding...

Stereo Kicks perform with 'an imposter' on Saturday's X Factor

Stereo Kicks were interrupted mid performance on Saturday night's X Factor by comedian, Lee Nelson, who jumped on stage to sing with the eight-piece boy band. Despite the "imposter" being...