On the heels of joining the rest of the Spice Girls on stage for a reunion tour, British pop icon Melanie C sat down with Rolling Stone to look back at several first times in her career. From the first time she was given the nickname Sporty Spice, to what it was like meeting her personal hero Madonna for the first time, the 46-year-old singer dipped into her past for “The First Time.”

Watch: Melanie C chats to Rolling Stone

On reflecting how each Spice Girl got their nicknames, Melanie C tells of how it was actually an editor for UK magazine Top of the Pops who assigned the monikers. “It was a little bit complicated, because there were two Mels, so what are you gonna do? We just tried to keep it simple” she laughs. “The editor [of Top of the Pops] had decided to give us all nicknames, and they just stuck.”

Early in the interview, Melanie C reveals that she frequently gets emotional on stage when watching the crowd. “Often when I see other people’s reactions – to the song that you’re singing, and obviously you see what it means to them – that can often make me cry. Which is a pain, because crying and singing don’t really work well together,” she says. “That’s my excuse for any bad vocals – I was totes emosh.”

Melanie C also noted the difference between British and American fans who dressed up as Sporty Spice. “When we toured the U.K., all the kids would come dressed as their favourite Spice Girl, and then when we came to the U.S., it was all the adults”. She then recalled her first time performing a song onstage in front of an audience, when she was 15. Although it didn’t go as planned, her song choice was a powerhouse ballad – “The Greatest Love of All” – from the legendary Whitney Houston.

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