Mel B

The Spice Girls were loud, independent, feisty and fearless – and perhaps no one personified 'Girl Power' more than theirrepressible 'Scary Spice', aka Melanie Brown. A larger-than-life lass from Leeds with a penchant for leopard-print clothes and voluminous hair, Mel B bounced her way into the nation's consciousness 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 Martin, who was formerly from the Caribbean island of Nevis.

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 B was concerned the answer was a resounding yes. And when the Spice Girls line up was finalised in 1995 she was signed along with Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams, Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm .

The group enjoyed incredible success and became a pop music phenomenon, before Geri's decision to quit in 1998 which 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.

Meanwhile, the four remaining Spices continued recording and performing together but 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 and shortly afterwards the singer relocated to Los Angeles. Although she released another album, LA State Of Mind in 2005, Mel's interests were moving on.

Looking to new horizons, she ventured into presenting and is highly sought after as a talent search judge across the globe. She has appeared on America's Got Talent, The Voice Kids in Australia and the X Factor in Britain.

The move Stateside also brought Mel B a different circle of friends, and the singer admits to enjoying life in America. "I like it. I have a great group of English friends," she says. "Phoenix has a great time. 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 end, however, when Mel was expecting. At six months pregnant, she learnt that her beau had informed a Dutch TV channel the relationship was over and was questioning the paternity of the baby. Mel gave birth to a baby girl, named Angel Iris Murphy Brown, on April 3, 2007.

A court-ordered DNA test confirmed that the comedy star was Angel's father and he paid Mel for the cost of the pregnancy and child support.

Two months after the birth her long-time friend, businessman, 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 and renewed their vows a year later in a big ceremony in Egypt.

"But that first moment we said our vows in Vegas, I looked right in his eyes and I knew this was the one man for the rest of my life," says Mel. "He's the first man I've ever trusted, he's my rock and he is the beginning and end of who I am."

The pair have two more children, Giselle, Stephen's daughter, who was born in 2005 from a previous relationship and Madison, the baby of the bunch, who came along in 2011.

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