Spice Girls "would love" to perform for Mandela

Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:23pm EST
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Spice Girls would love to perform for former South African President Nelson Mandela, but said on Monday they had not yet been formally asked to be part of his planned 90th birthday celebrations in June.

During a backstage interview with Reuters before the group's sold-out New York concert, the five members of the British pop group -- Geri Halliwell, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm and Emma Bunton -- were enthusiastic about the idea.

Britain's Daily Mirror reported last week that Mandela was eager for the Spice Girls, who reunited late last year for a greatest hits album and world tour, to perform at a planned concert in London's Hyde Park.

"We're great friends of Mr. Mandela and we would love to perform for him again," said Chisholm, a.k.a. Sporty Spice.

The Spice Girls met Mandela in 1997 when the then-president invited them to his Pretoria residence for a chat and photos. They were in South Africa to perform in a Johannesburg charity concert.

The pop stars reportedly had to turn down an invitation to perform at Mandela's 89th birthday celebrations last year as Bunton was heavily pregnant with her first child.

"We were privileged enough to meet the man and he is just amazing," said Halliwell, a.k.a. Ginger Spice. "He's just an example of strength and humility and if we could be part of that, celebrating his life -- wow."

The Spice Girls were one of the biggest pop acts of the 1990s, selling 35 million albums worldwide with such catchy hits as "Wannabe" and "Say You'll Be There."   Continued...

<p>Spice Girls, Mel C (L), Emma, (2L) Mel B (C) Gerri, (2R) and Victoria (R) pose with President Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles in Pretoria, (3L) November 1, 1997. REUTERS/Peter Andrews</p>