Melissa Bell is the mother of X Factor winner Alexandra Burke. But her own life story is even more remarkable that that of her daughter and is truly inspiring in its own right. From the age of four, music filled every corner of Melissa's life: she could play the piano, was constantly singing and even ran her own 'radio station' from the upstairs window of the house, calling out to passers-by and begging them to stop and listen. It was when Melissa saw the 14-year-old Lena Zavaroni performing on Opportunity Knocks that she knew her life's dream was to be a singer. Her break in the music world came when she was spotted at a talent show at the Hackney Empire. She became the singer in Jazzy B's group Soul II Soul and her huge talent led to life-changing events such as performing at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley, singing with Whitney Houston and performing on stage with Stevie Wonder - as well as going to church with him one Sunday! But the happiness Melissa found in her music was not mirrored in her personal life. Her marriage to childhood sweetheart David Burke fell apart when she discovered that he had been unfaithful to her.
Left to bring up four children on her own, times were hard and, when Alex was small, Melissa recalls how they had to delve down the back of the sofa for change to buy bread and milk. The demands of singing and bringing up a young family could not co-exist and Melissa gave up her passion to be there for her kids. Her dreams of stardom were reignited when Alex was successful in getting through to the X Factor finals and was ultimately crowned the winner of the show. Behind the scenes, however, Melissa was dealing with the devastating news that her kidneys were failing. When Alex was on the verge of entering X Factor bootcamp, Melissa collapsed and was rushed to hospital; she then received the devasting news that she would need regular dialysis to stay alive. This is the fascinating and poignant story of a mother who has battled against the odds to give her children the best life possible and afford them the opportunities that she herself had to sacrifice. As Melissa waits to hear if she will be successful in her quest for a kidney donor, she strives to keep her independence, stay strong for her children and help those with similar problems.
She is a shining example of a woman for whom giving up is simply not an option.
Melissa Bell was born in North London in 1964 to struggling Jamaican immigrant parents. Blessed with an incredible, soulful voice she achieved cult status as a singer. Deserted by her husband, she fought to bring up her four children on her own while battling with kidney failure. From her hospital bed, she saw a lifetime of hard work and dreams pay off when her youngest daughter, Alexandra, won X Factor and became a star overnight.