A native of London, Bell is of African, and East Indian descent through her Jamaican-born parents.
Bell suffers from kidney failure, and struggled to attend her daughter's live performances during her time on The X Factor. In 2008, she came under investigation following claims of benefit fraud, which she denied. In September 2009, Burke accused her mother of jealousy following her success on The X Factor. Bell fought back, stating: "What type of mum is jealous of her daughter? She doesn't have millions but when she does she'll look after me. If she gets the best then I get the best and getting my life-saving treatment - that's my priority". On 20th December 2014 Melissa graced the stage at the famous Essex music venue The Traitors Gate, as part of duo Soul Intension Divas with Izzy R Ex Vocalist with Alexander O'Neal.