Vanity, Former Prince Protégé & Leader of the Vanity 6, Dies at 57

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Vanity photographed in Chicago on April 3, 1986.

Denise Katrina Matthews, the singer formerly known as Vanity, has died. She was 57. 

Matthews died from kidney failure, the result of years of crack cocaine abuse, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. She died in a hospital in Fremont, Calif.

The Canadian born singer was also a songwriter, dancer, actress and model, leading the girl group Vanity 6 from 1981 to 1983. In that time, they recorded the smooth funk single, "Nasty Girl," which was produced by Prince and topped the Billboard dance charts. 

She also recorded two solo albums for Motown --Wild Animal and Skin on Skin -- and starred in movies The Last Dragon and Action Jackson.

Matthews became a born-again Christian after a near-fatal drug overdose in 1994 and renounced her former identity. After she recieved a kidney transplant in 1997, she went on to devote her life to evangelism. In 2010, she self-released an autobiography called Blame It on Vanity

Matthews' health problems continued and took a turn for the worse last year. After being diagnosed with the kidney condition sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis, she set up a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for her medical treatment but fell more than $43,000 short of her goal. 

Sheila E., Questlove of the Roots, Solange Knowles and more posted tributes to Matthews on Twitter following word of her death:


Man. Vanity was everything to me. Everything. Rest in peace. Denise "Vanity" Mathews.

A photo posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on