Alexandra Burke has paid tribute to her "beautiful mother", Soul II Soul singer Melissa Bell, who sadly passed away on Monday at the age of 53. The Strictly Come Dancing contestant broke the news in a statement shared on Twitter. She wrote: "It is with the heaviest and saddest of hearts that the family inform you that our beautiful, funny and loving mum, Melissa Bell, has passed away. Our beautiful mother gained her wings on Monday 28th August 2017, a day that has changed our lives forever.
"We will never forget her unconditional love, support, charisma, strength and courage throughout her life. We are eternally proud & thankful to call her our mummy."
Alexandra Burke announced the news of her mother's death on Twitter
Alexandra, 29, followed the statement with another tweet regarding her future on Strictly Come Dancing. "Mummy has always been my biggest supporter and was over the moon when I told her I was doing Strictly," she said. "It was always a dream of hers that I would one day be part of the show and I know that she would have wanted me to carry on xx."
Melissa began her music career in the late Eighties, but got her big break when she joined Soul II Soul in 1993, recording songs including Wish and Be a Man. She then left the group to pursue a solo career, and later became the frontwoman of Soul Explosion. Melissa had long struggled with health issues; she suffered with kidney failure in 2008, while Alexandra was competing on The X Factor, which she eventually went on to win.
The X Factor winner pictured with mum Melissa Bell
In December last year, Alexandra asked her fans to pray for her mother, writing: "I never usually do this but I know the power of the universe… My mum has gone through so much this year with her health and I mean it when I say she really is the strongest woman I know. I shed a little tear as I write this blog because some of you guys actually know my mummy and know how much of a loving woman she is. I won't go into detail. But your prayers are needed and I know my mum will appreciate them. I thank you guys for reading this and also thank you for your support."