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'What we did is part of history'

Melanie C talks to Alex Green about reforming the Spice Girls and her journey of self-discovery

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Reflective: Melanie C says she’s proud of overcoming past difficulties

Reflective: Melanie C says she’s proud of overcoming past difficulties

Press Association Images

Melanie C's self-titled eighth album is out now

Melanie C's self-titled eighth album is out now

Press Association Images

Reflective: Melanie C says she’s proud of overcoming past difficulties

Melanie C has been on quite a journey in recent years.

In the last decade, the Cheshire singer has raised a daughter through her formative years, reformed the Spice Girls for a second time, and become a vocal advocate for LGBT rights.

It's been a period of positive change, she explains over video call from her Hampstead home, culminating in this - her self-titled eighth album.

"I have been on this voyage of self-discovery," she says, perched on her sofa.

Melanie Jayne Chisholm (46) was born in the Lancashire village of Whiston, but raised in Widnes, Cheshire.

She has operated under a number of names across her 25 years in showbusiness - Melanie C, Mel C, Sporty Spice. Her latest record is a reflective effort reminiscent of Madonna or Robyn's timeless brand of disco heartbreak. The album, she says, could not have happened without the Spice Girls' reunion last year.

The girl band - minus Victoria Beckham - got back together for a string of tour dates across the UK and Ireland.

"Being back on stage with the Spice Girls last year was almost like..." she says before trailing off.

"I could just see everything so clearly. It made me so reflective. And leading up to those shows I'd been nervous. It's a long time since I had been on stage with the girls.

"We were all older. We have done so many different things. And I was like, 'Can I become Sporty Spice?' Is it within me to still do that?'

"Really quickly I realised that I don't become her, I am her."

Those performances also helped her confront her tougher times in the band. A damaging pattern of behaviour ultimately led to anorexia, binge-eating and a diagnosis of depression. She recalls the epiphany which grew each night on stage last year as the band played to sold-out stadiums.

"Within that moment of realising how lucky we had been and celebrating our success, I just started to feel this pride in myself," she says.

"Instead of having regrets for those times, just being proud I have overcome them and lived to tell the tale."

Melanie C is apologetic when she breaks off our conversation briefly to text her 11-year-old daughter, Scarlet.

"She's asking about a sleepover," she laughs.

This reappraisal of the Spice Girls' legacy has left her with a pragmatic approach to the capricious nature of fame.

"When it was all happening we were so young," she recalls.

"We were caught up in the whole experience, which was amazing but so surreal. We couldn't really take it in. Last year made me realise that what we did is part of history. It's an incredible legacy that we are leaving."

Recent years have also seen Melanie C develop close ties with the LGBT community, specifically the London-based party collective Sink The Pink. Following the recent Spice Girls shows, she embarked on a world tour of Pride events and released a song, High Heels, backed by the collective's drag queens.

The project had a "really amazing and quite profound" effect on her. This was put into stark relief during their stop at Sao Paulo Pride in Brazil.

"I was working so closely with people from the community and some of my queens were non-binary people, so I was just being educated constantly.

"We were in Sao Paulo - I get quite emotional about it - we went to Sao Paulo and I am sure you are very much aware (of) the president (Jair Bolsonaro) there.

"He is very right-wing, quite outspoken, and the gay community are quite nervous about some of the things that are being spoken about out there.

"Hate crime is going up. It's really not good. So to be there as an international ally, I felt really proud I was able to do that."

Looking to the future, Melanie can't wait to get back on the road. And after a run of nights at Wembley Stadium last year, the next step up is obvious - Glastonbury. "It's got to be a headline slot, hasn't it?" she says.

Melanie C's self-titled eighth album is out now

Belfast Telegraph