Short URL: https://link.melb.us/1vHIeoz
A.k.a.: Melanie B, Mel B, Melanie Brown, Melanie G, Scary Spice
Melanie Janine Brown (born May 29, 1975 in Leeds, England) is a British pop singer, best known as one of the members of the girl band, the Spice Girls, where she was known as "Scary Spice", apparently because of her in-your-face attitude and her hairstyle.
Brown was born to a white mother and a black father. Having conquered the globe as a Spice Girl, Brown decided it was time to go further. The right occasion came while the Spice Girls were touring the States and Hip Hop Queen Missy Elliott called her to ask if she was interested in singing a song called "I want you back", which went on to become part of the soundtrack to the film "Why do fools fall in love?". The song was recorded in one afternoon and went on to sell 218,000 copies, and was the 82nd best seller of 1998 in the UK, giving Melanie her first and only #1 in her own country. The news came the day that the Spice Girls played their last concert of the World Tour at the Wembley Stadium in front of 52.000 fans.
A week earlier, the 13th of September Brown became Melanie G, having married dancer Jimmy Gulzar (father of her unborn child) who was also featured in the video to "I want you back" and went on to direct Melanie’s second solo video for the single "Word up", in 1999.
After such a convincing start for her solo career, doors swung open for Melanie, who found herself hosting the 1998 Edition of the Music Of Black Origin (MOBO’s). She also started working on her first solo album with producers such as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Prince) who also worked on the Spice Girls’ third album: "Forever".
Christmas came and all the girls took a break after achieving something big: their 3rd consecutive Christmas #1 with the single "Goodbye".
The 19th of February 1999 Phoenix Chi came to the world, one month earlier than expected.
Melanie’s second solo single "Word up" (cover of the Cameo song which was a big hit in the 80’s) was released in June, and due to the heavy pregnancy, Melanie didn’t appear in the video, an animated piece of art which was considered "too explicit" by some and was censored in a few countries. The song was part of the soundtrack to "Austin Powers: The spy who shagged me" and the singer had to shoot a different version of the video for the American market, in which Mini Me is featured. The single didn’t meet the same fate as "I want you back" and charted at a low #14 in the UK. The disappointing results were partly due to a problem that made the weekend sales of all the singles released in that week not be counted.
In the same year, Melanie hosted a tv show called "Pure Naughty" which was all about black music and she got the chance to interview some of her favourite artists, like Usher, hosted the 1999 Edition of the MOBO’s with Wyclef Jean (The Fugees), and took part in a mini-movie called "Fish" which was never released to theatres and didn’t give her anything apart from a new experience. At the same time, she kept on working on her debut album and was dealing with marriage problems. By the summer, the divorce papers had come in.
In January 2000 the divorce became reality, and the battle for the custody of Phoenix Chi turned into a media circus. Melanie won the cause but had to pay a big amount of money to Jimmy Gulzar, also known as "Goldcard", having been accused by the media and Melanie herself to be shopaholic and totally passive. He had been spotted several times filling his car with tens of bags after a full-on day of shopping.
The year 2000 saw Melanie releasing her debut solo album, "Hot". In September she released the first single from the it, "Tell me", a clear attack to her ex-husband, a song that showed a different side of Melanie. It was more r&b and lyrically more straight-forward than anything she had done in the past. The single went to #4 in the UK charts and was #1 in the r&b charts, with about 40,000 sales in its first week sold a very respectable 100,000 copies, and was the 158th best seller of 2000. Not bad at all compared to what was going to come.
"Hot", Melanie’s first ever solo album was released one month later, the 3rd of October and it only sold 8.000 copies in its first week, limping at a disappointing #28 and falling out of the top50 the next week. The disappointing sales were due to lack of promotion and most of all, bad timing. In October the Spice Girls released their comeback single "Holler" which got to #1. Their brand new album, "Forever" was released the 6th of November, which means that Melanie had to promote both her solo record and the band’s. Of course all the fans that had been waiting for years bought the group’s album and not Melanie’s. By the end of the year, there was no way to take the album back in the charts but a new single was planned to be released, "Feels so good". Its release was postponed to February 2001. Too late. The single itself didn’t do bad at all, it actually outsold the previous one, with a #5 placing, with very pleasing 138,450 copies sold altogether – and was, quite shockingly, the 80th best seller of 2001, selling 55,000 copies in its first week and making the album appear again in the charts at #95.
Rumours started circulating that if her next single flopped, Melanie would be dropped by her record company, Virgin Records. In May Melanie performed a small set at the London G-A-Y Astoria club, the only gig she ever did, until 2004. Eventually a 3rd single was released in June 2001, "Lullaby", a pop number dedicated to her daughter which was accompanied by a very simple video shot in Morocco and featured Melanie and Phoenix Chi. The little girl appearing in the video and on the cover of the single wasn’t a great idea for the media, which labelled Melanie as "Desperate Spice", saying how she was trying to sell records relaying on people’s feelings. The single was released and got to #13. That’s what Virgin was waiting for, the time had come for Melanie to leave the label, scrapping all plans of a 4th single for the summer, "Hotter", a great r&b song produced by Sisqo, which according to many could have saved Melanie B’s career.
From 2001 to 2004 Melanie B concentrated on different projects. She hosted a number of TV shows such as "This is my moment" (a talent show in which people from home would choose between a certain number of contestants whose dream was to become singers), shot a documentary called "Vodoo princess" which got many good reviews, took part in a British drama, "Burn it" and shot her first movie, "Lethal dose 50%", released on DVD in 2004. She also took part in smaller projects such as "Top Of The Pops" and "The All Star Animal Awards". She has appeared in an advert for the Yorkshire tourist board in a series which included contributions from other Yorkshire-born celebrities including Brian Blessed, Alan Titchmarsh, Darren Gough, and Brian Turner. She also played a long run of shows as part of the cast for the "Vagina monologues" which was a big success in the UK and saw Melanie acting on a stage barefeet, dressed in black and talking about women and their problems, both physically and emotionally. In 2003 she moved to the US with her daughter and planned to spend there the rest of her life. She shot another movie there, "The seat filler", starring Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland.
In April 2004 she was approached to take part in one of the most successful Broadway productions called "Rent". She played the role of Mimi, a drug-addicted young girl, achieving positive reviews and placing another important stone in Melanie’s acting career. A few weeks later she played her second and last gig to date with the cast of "Rent" in a New York club showcasing some new songs she had written and recorded on a friend’s computer in Los Angeles. It was just to test the songs but having received a positive feedback she decided to release them a year later through an independent label called "Amber Café".
The first single from the album, "Today", was released only in the UK in June 2005 with just two weeks of basic promotion in some TV and Radio shows. The lack of promotion and of airplay for both the single and the extremely simple video (which was shot by a friend of hers) made the single chart at #41. The album, "L.A. state of mind" was released the 27th of June 2005 in a double edition (Regular Edition and a Limited Edition which came with a DVD featuring a 30 minutes documentary of Melanie in L.A.) and it unofficial chart position is a disappointing #453 selling just 670 copies in its first week. Rumor has it a further single, "Beautiful girl", which apparently had a video made for it was planned. However due to the low sales of both single and album these plans were shelved. Melanie was not dropped from Amber Records but both ambicably decided to part ways.
It was during the promotion of the project that Melanie hinted during an interview at the possible reunion of the Spice Girls for a Greatest Hits album and rumours started circulating that the band might reunite for the close Live 8 concert taking place the 2nd of July 2005 in London’s Hyde Park. The girls were all approached by Sir Bob Geldof who was seriously interested in reuniting one of the biggest bands of the last twenty years for the occasion, but Melanie was the only one who refused due to other commitments that she couldn’t just get out of. This might be one of the reasons that kept many Spice Girls fans from buying her album apart from the project itself being very low-key.
It was known afterwards that the commitment she just couldn’t postpone was the current writing of a new sitcom which seems hasn’t been bought by any company yet. Apart from that, she starred in a new teen-thriller movie called "Telling lies" expected to be released this fall, in which she plays the role of a female detective.
Tabloids began reporting that Brown is carefully considering a come-back in 2008 with new music, more movie roles and TV projects. Brown has confirmed she has several projects in the works and has told fans to "watch this space".