Singer Vanity dies at age 57

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    We are extremely sad to report that singer and Prince protégé Denise Katrina Matthews, aka Vanity, has died at age 57. Her death follows years of significant kidney ailments. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Matthews established herself as one of the sexiest, most popular singers during a brief period in the 1980s, but less publicized was her religious conversion and mission to serve God for the last two decades of her life.

    A beauty pageant winner at age 17, Matthews was a popular model (including in Playboy) before meeting Prince in 1980 at the American Music Awards. He was smitten by her beauty and her vocal talent, and created the singing group Vanity 6 around her. Prince armed the group with sexually charged songs on their one hit album, and they topped the charts with the explicit single, “Nasty Girl.” At the time, Matthews was also romantically involved with Prince.

    We are extremely sad to report that singer and Prince protégé Denise Katrina Matthews, aka Vanity, has died at age 57. Her death follows years of significant kidney ailments. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Matthews established herself as one of the sexiest, most popular singers during a brief period in the 1980s, but less publicized was her religious conversion and mission to serve God for the last two decades of her life.

    A beauty pageant winner at age 17, Matthews was a popular model (including in Playboy) before meeting Prince in 1980 at the American Music Awards. He was smitten by her beauty and her vocal talent, and created the singing group Vanity 6 around her. Prince armed the group with sexually charged songs on their one hit album, and they topped the charts with the explicit single, “Nasty Girl.” At the time, Matthews was also romantically involved with Prince.

    The end of the couple’s romantic and musical relationship came in 1983, and Matthews went solo as a Motown recording artist. She recorded three albums and landed a few moderate hits, most notably “Pretty Mess.”  She also acted in the movies The Last Dragon and Action Jackson.

    Unfortunately, Matthews developed a drug addiction and the abuse damaged her kidneys to the point where she almost died.  The brush with death, however, led her to a religious conversion in the mid-90s that would last the rest of her life. Despite being forced to receive dialysis treatment multiples times daily, she became a vocal evangelist for Christ, and spent her available time trying to help others with their religious faith.

    There is a lot of sadness in the story of Vanity, especially with her death at such a young age. But the story of the personal growth that Denise Katrina Matthews found later in life was a true story of redemption, and one that had more impact on people than her brief time at the top of the charts. Rest in peace, Denise.

    By Chris Rizik

     
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