Spice Girls ready to take 'final bow,' says Sporty

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NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm is glad she overcame her reluctance and agreed to a reunion of the hit group.

Nearly a decade after the five-member group became four -- when Geri Halliwell left Chisholm, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham -- and seven years since the release of their third and supposedly final album, the Spice Girls are back with a greatest hits album and a world reunion tour.

But Chisholm, a k a Sporty Spice or Mel C, said it was not the beginning of a new chapter, but rather ''our final bow'' to celebrate a career that has seen the group sell more than 55 million albums and rack up 10 No 1 singles around the world.

''We all hoped (the reunion) would be successful, but we're all quite overwhelmed by the actual response,'' Chisholm told Reuters in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where the group is rehearsing for the tour, which starts in Vancouver on December 2 and is scheduled to play 18 cities in nine countries.

''That has just made us more determined to make the show the best show any British pop band has ever put on,'' she said.

But Chisholm admits she was reluctant to be part of the reunion, which she said the group began talking about after they were asked to perform at one of the 2005 Live 8 concerts to fight global poverty.

''For years I always thought I would never go back. It's a very personal thing to me. I had a lot of things to deal with after the Spice Girls, I had a lot of personal issues, and I have been very happy being a solo artist,'' said Chisholm, 33, who has released four solo albums.

''I had to really think about my decision, but after spending time with the girls and now getting into the show I am so glad this is the decision I had made,'' she said, adding that Halliwell -- a k a Ginger Spice -- did try to convince her by telling her the group would reunite with or without her.

''That was a phone call that I received, whether it was true or not I don't know,'' Chisholm said, laughing.

Sporty, Ginger, Posh (Beckham), Scary (Brown) and Baby (Bunton) made it big in 1996 with their hit single ''Wannabe'' off the album ''Spice.'' This was followed with 1997's ''Spiceworld,'' which also spawned a movie of the same name.

But their success was short-lived when Halliwell walked out on the band in 1998, only four years after The Spice Girls was created, and the remaining band members went their separate ways after releasing the album ''Forever'' in 2000.

The greatest hits album will be released today in the United States and Canada.

Beckham has maintained the highest profile since the band broke up, helped by her superstar soccer-playing husband David, while Brown received headlines recently with a high-profile paternity case that confirmed Hollywood star Eddie Murphy as father of her newborn baby girl.

REUTERS CS KP0913

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