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Geri Halliwell

Geri Halliwell

British pop singer-songwriter, clothes designer, author and actress

Geraldine Estelle Horner (née Halliwell; born 6 August 1972), is an English singer, songwriter, author, actress, and philanthropist. She rose to prominence in the 1990s as Ginger Spice, a member of the girl group the Spice Girls. With over 100 million records sold worldwide, the Spice Girls are the best-selling female group of all time. Their slogan "girl power" was most closely associated with Halliwell, and her Union Jack dress from the 1997 Brit Awards also became an enduring symbol. Halliwell left the Spice Girls in 1998, citing exhaustion and creative differences, but rejoined when they reunited in 2007.

In 1999, Halliwell released her debut solo album, Schizophonic, which produced the UK number-one singles "Mi Chico Latino", "Lift Me Up" and "Bag It Up"; the lead single, "Look at Me", reached number two. In 2001, she released her second album, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster; the lead single, "It's Raining Men", reached number one in the UK, the biggest hit of her career. "Scream If You Wanna Go Faster" and "Calling", were also top-ten singles. Halliwell's third album, Passion (2005), which included the worldwide hit "Ride It", reached the top ten in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Ukraine and Russia.

In 2021, Halliwell was a guest judge on the ninth series of The X Factor UK and the following year, she was a judge on the seventh series on Australia's Got Talent. In September 2013, it was announced that Halliwell would return to the music industry in Australia with the release of her first solo single in eight years, "Half of Me". She has written two autobiographies, including If Only (1999), and a series of children's novels, including Ugenia Lavender.

She has appeared in films including Spice World (1997), Fat Slags: The Film (2004), Crank: High Voltage (2009) and The Crown with a Shadow (2021).

Early life

Geraldine Estelle Halliwell was born on 6 August 1972 at Watford General Hospital in Watford, Hertfordshire, the daughter of Ana María (née Hidalgo) and Laurence Francis Halliwell (1922–1993). Her mother is Spanish, hailing from Huesca, while her father was of Swedish, English and a "bit of French" descent. Halliwell's paternal grandfather was Swedish, though born in Korsnäs, Finland. Halliwell grew up on a council estate in North Watford. She was educated at Watford Grammar School for Girls and Camden School for Girls. Before starting her music career, Halliwell had worked as a nightclub dancer in Majorca, a presenter on the Turkish version of Let's Make a Deal, and a glamour model. At the age of 19, she appeared as a Page 3 girl in The Sun. Following her rise to fame, nude photos of Halliwell were republished in a number of magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse in 1996.

Musical career

1994–1998: Spice Girls

In 1994, Halliwell, along with Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown and Victoria Beckham, responded to an advertisement in The Stage magazine. Around 400 women answered the ad and auditioned at Dance Works studios. After a couple of initial line-up changes, Halliwell, Chisholm, Brown and Beckham (née Adams) eventually became the members of the group, along with Emma Bunton. The group felt insecure about the lack of a contract and were frustrated by the direction in which Heart Management was steering them, and in October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, they began touring management agencies. They persuaded Bob Herbert to set up a showcase performance for the group in front of industry writers, producers, and artists and repertoire 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 summer 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 song proved to be a global hit, reaching number one in 37 countries, becoming the best-selling single by an all-female group of all time. Shortly after "Wannabe"'s release, each member of the group received a nickname from Top of the Pops magazine. Because of her "liveliness, zest and flaming red hair", Halliwell was named "Ginger Spice". "Wannabe" was followed by nine further number-one singles from their albums Spice, Spiceworld and Forever. Other successful releases followed, including "Say You'll Be There" and "2 Become 1" from Spice, and "Spice Up Your Life", "Too Much" and "Viva Forever" from Spiceworld.

On 31 May 1998, Halliwell announced through her solicitor that she had left the Spice Girls due to depression and differences between the group. Her action aroused controversy, her former group being due to embark on a North American tour, which they eventually completed without her. Although she had already left the group, the Spice Girls released "Viva Forever", the final music video to feature Halliwell's likeness, plus a one-off supergroup called England United for the official England FC song (Jo Whiley introduced the band saying "...plus Geri as a substitute"). After she left, the other girls co-wrote a few songs about her, which appeared on their album Forever: "Goodbye", "Tell Me Why" and "Let Love Lead the Way". The group is among the best-selling girl groups of all time, selling over 75 million albums.

Girl power

Although regularly uttered by all five Spice Girls, the phrase "girl power" was most closely associated with Halliwell and was often accompanied with a peace sign. In a Christmas 1996 interview with The Spectator magazine, Halliwell spoke of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as being an inspiration for their girl power ideology. In a 2019 interview with Harper's Bazaar, she said, "For me, if you look it up, it means equalisation between the sexes. It means everybody, whether you're a man, woman or something in between. Forget about labels, it's about embracing everyone's individuality and giving them the opportunity and gender equality and pushing that forward."

Halliwell's association with girl power (and her friendship with George Michael) was spoofed in the BBC comedy series Rock Profile. Halliwell (played by comedian Matt Lucas) is portrayed as a patronising moron who stalks and has delusions about marrying Michael. According to Halliwell, everything is "Girl Power".

1999–2006: Schizophonic, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster and Passion

In 1999, one year after leaving the group, Halliwell launched her solo career and released her debut album Schizophonic, with the lead single "Look at Me", produced by Absolute and Phil Bucknall. "Look at Me" was followed by further number ones at the UK Singles Chart, "Mi Chico Latino", "Lift Me Up" and "Bag It Up". The album itself reached a peak at number four in the United Kingdom and sold 600,000 copies there, making it double platinum. Halliwell was nominated at BRIT Awards ceremony in 2000, for Best British Female Solo Artist and Best Pop Act, she also performed "Bag It Up" during the show, emerging between giant inflatable legs, ripping off her shirt and walking in stiletto heels over the backs of topless pink-haired men whilst performing the song. Schizophonic debuted at number 42 on the Billboard 200 before dropping out within the next month. The album was eventually certified gold, distributing over 500,000 copies. The album ended up selling around three million copies worldwide.

In 2001, Halliwell followed up with her second album, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster, the album peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and sold 200,000 copies there and was certified gold. It included her cover version of the Weather Girls' 1983 hit, "It's Raining Men", was also used on the Bridget Jones's Diary film soundtrack and the video game DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution 7thMix. The song was released as the lead single from the album. "It's Raining Men" became a major hit worldwide, it peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and peaked in the top 10 in over 27 countries, becoming Halliwell's biggest hit to date. The song won her the International Song of the Year award at the 2002 NRJ Music Awards. The singles that followed, "Scream If You Wanna Go Faster" and "Calling", reached number eight and number seven in the United Kingdom, respectively. Halliwell released a special French edition of "Calling", titled "Au Nom de L'amour". In 2002 Halliwell was once again nominated at the BRIT Awards, this time for Best British Female Solo Artist and Best British Single for "It's Raining Men". Scream If You Wanna Go Faster has sold a million copies worldwide.

In late 2004 Halliwell made a return to music with the single "Ride It", which reached number four in the United Kingdom and number one on the dance charts. However, several months elapsed before another single was released, during which time she was apparently instructed to record some new tracks for the as yet unreleased album by her record company, which was unhappy with the setlist. Halliwell planned her first solo tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland, but due to lack of ticket sales, compounded by the label's pressure on Halliwell to record additional songs, led to the cancellation of the tour. Eventually, a new single, "Desire", was released on 30 May 2005, reaching number 22 in the UK Singles Chart and number one on the UK Dance Charts. Released shortly after, the source album, Passion, similarly received little attention from the public or critics and stalled at number 41 in the British charts. Halliwell's recording contract with EMI was subsequently not renewed and she stated that she was not interested in recording another album at that time and was content with writing children's books and being a mother.

2007–2014: Spice Girls reunion and return to music

On 29 June 2007, the Spice Girls regrouped and announced plans for a reunion tour, from which they were said to have earned £10 million each (about US$20 million). The group's members said that they were still enjoying "doing their own thing". The group decided to tour as a quintet and release their first compilation album, a collection of their Greatest Hits. This album was released in early November 2007 and the tour began on 2 December 2007. During the reformation, film maker Bob Smeaton directed an official film of the tour, which he titled Spice Girls: Giving You Everything. In addition to their sell-out tour, the Spice Girls were contracted to appear in Tesco advertisements, for which they were paid £1 million each. In March 2010, vocal coach and singer Carrie Grant announced on ITV1's The Alan Titchmarsh Show that Halliwell would be making a return to music. In April 2010, Halliwell posted a message on her website, saying she was back in the studio and referring to Lady Gaga as one of her influences. In May 2011, reports suggested that Halliwell would be making a return to music. On 31 July 2011, Halliwell confirmed she had been working on her fourth album, stating of it, "The album's pretty much finished."

In February 2012, Halliwell announced that the fourth album was being mastered. In August 2012, she reunited with the Spice Girls to perform as a quintet at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. This was the last Spice Girls concert to feature Victoria Beckham. The group also teamed up with Jennifer Saunders and Judy Craymer to develop a musical based on the songs of the Spice Girls titled Viva Forever!, which opened on 11 December 2012. In October 2012, Halliwell made her first solo performance in seven years at the Breast Cancer Care, debuting a new track called "Phenomenal Woman". In January 2013, Halliwell claimed that she had decided to shelve the album she had finished to continue writing and recording, moving in a different style direction.

On 5 September 2013, it was confirmed by Channel 9's NRL Footy Show (one of the longest-running shows in Australia) that Halliwell would be performing a world exclusive of "Half of Me", her first solo single in nearly eight years, at its grand final show. The performance took place on 3 October 2013, exactly one year after her last exhibition with new material at the Breast Cancer Care Show. On 12 September 2013, it was announced that the song "Half of Me" would be released exclusively in Australia, as part of a new deal with Sony Music Australia. The single was released on 25 October 2013 and reached number 281 in the Australian charts. Halliwell then took to her official blog to write about her upsetting experience back in the music business and hinted of possibly retiring for good. On the grand final of Australia's Got Talent, she performed an acoustic version of the Spice Girls' hit single "Wannabe".

2015–present: Second Spice Girls reunion and fourth album

As of 2015, Halliwell is still working on new material for her fourth studio album, which has yet to be released after multiple delays. Three tracks were confirmed as of September 2015: "Love and Light", "Phenomenal Woman" and "Sheriff".

In July 2016, Halliwell, Brown and Bunton released a video celebrating the 20th anniversary of Spice Girls' debut single "Wannabe" and teased news from them as a three-piece; Beckham and Chisholm opted not to take part in a reunion project, with Brown saying that both members gave the three-piece their blessing to continue with the project. However, following Halliwell's announcement of her pregnancy, the project was cancelled.

In November 2016, 13 songs from Halliwell's fourth album, reportedly titled Man on the Mountain, were leaked onto the internet, including the previously confirmed tracks "Love and Light", "Phenomenal Woman" and "Sheriff". The following June, Halliwell released a charity single, "Angels in Chains", a tribute to George Michael, to raise money for Childline.

On 5 November 2018, the Spice Girls announced their reunion Spice World – 2019 Tour; Beckham declined to join due to commitments regarding her fashion business. The tour began in May 2019 and ended in June 2019.

Timeline

August 6, 1972
Geri Halliwell was born in Watford.

Patents

Further Resources

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Geri Halliwell

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News

Title
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Date
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Daniel Welsh
May 9, 2021
HuffPost UK
Featuring dodgy fashion, A-list stunts and a truly iconic speech from Geri Halliwell.
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