A part of one of the most groundbreaking TV shows of the noughties, Kym Marsh has undoubtedly had the most eventful career of any U.K. reality pop star. Born in Garswood, Lancashire in 1976 to a Lebanese immigrant mother and English father, Marsh began performing at a young age. At ten years old, she sang with a band at her local Labour club and by the age of 13 had released her first single, "One Kiss," through a small record label, Jelly Street Records. After attending the Elliot Clark stage school in Liverpool, Marsh provided vocals for several dance acts including Solar Stone and 2dB.
In 2000, she joined thousands of hopefuls on ITV's Popstars show, an innovative talent search contest which televised the usually secretive audition process. She quickly became one of the most high-profile contestants thanks to clashes with judge Nigel Lythgoe over her weight and the revelation she had two children. After being chosen for the final five she, along with her band Hear'Say, moved in together and began work on their debut album. Their first single, "Pure and Simple," became the fastest selling debut single ever, follow-up single "The Way to Your Love" and parent album Popstars, also reached the top spot and the group embarked on a 37 date sell-out arena tour. But just weeks after second album Everybody was released, Marsh left the group amid reports of fights with fellow member Myleene Klass.
After signing a solo deal with Island Records, she initially achieved success with her more mature acoustic pop sound. Both "Cry" (number two) and "Come on Over" (number ten) reached the Top Ten, but third single "Sentimental" (number 35) flopped and debut album Standing Tall (number nine) only spent three weeks in the chart. Returning to acting, she played Annette in Saturday Night Fever in the West End, and appeared in Holby City, Hollyoaks in the City, and Doctors. In 2006, she competed in Making Your Mind Up, the BBC's search for a Eurovision entrant, but could only finish fourth with her track "Whisper to Me." In 2006, she briefly appeared as Michelle Connor in Coronation Street, but proved so popular that producers made her role permanent and she quickly became one of the U.K.'s most popular soap actresses. Marsh won Most Popular Newcomer at 2007's National Television Awards. ~ Jon O'Brien