As reported by Billboard, British pop singer and actor Sarah Harding—best known as a member of the group Girls Aloud—has died following a battle with breast cancer. She was diagnosed last year, and Harding’s mother said in a statement that she “fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day” and that she would want to be remembered for being a “bright shining star” rather than for her cancer diagnosis. Harding published a memoir earlier this year, and in it she explained that she announced her cancer diagnosis in hopes of convincing others to get checked while they can. Harding was 39.
Born in Berkshire in 1981, Harding was an aspiring singer who worked various jobs while performing where she could. In 2002, she auditioned for British reality shows Popstars: The Rivals and Fame Academy and was accepted into both, though she dropped out of the latter when she made it past the first round of the former. Popstars was based around the judges (including pop group icon Geri Halliwell) assembling new pop groups with input from viewers calling in to vote, and Harding was eventually teamed up with Nadine Coyle, Cheryl Tweedy, Nicola Roberts, and Kimberly Walsh to form Girls Aloud.
The group had multiple hit singles, including “Sound Of The Underground,” “I’ll Stand By You,” “Walk This Way,” and “The Promise.” For a time, at least, Girls Aloud was the most successful musical group ever assembled by a reality TV show and was one of the most commercially successful girl groups in British pop music history. The group went on various hiatuses and subsequent reunions, with Harding embarking on an acting career that saw her pop up on Freefall, St. Trinian’s, The Jump, and Coronation Street. She also competed on Celebrity Big Brother in 2017 and went on to win the competition.
Plans for a solo album never came to fruition, but Harding released a single last year called “Wear It Like A Crown” that had been recorded years earlier.