RIP Vanity: Former Prince disciple dies at 57

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Well, this is sad.

Vanity, the beloved lead singer of the ’80s girl group Vanity 6, has tragically died after battling kidney failure and an undisclosed abdominal illness. Born Denise Katrina Matthews, the former entertainer passed away in a Fremont, California, hospital, according to sources close to her family. She was 57.

Her recent health struggles had been brought to light through a GoFundMe page, where she disclosed her diagnosis with sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis, which is an inflammation of the small intestines.

And while some would use this opportunity to focus on the darker times in her life (there’s been much written about her drug addiction in the ’90s), there’s so much more to her fascinating life story.

In 1982, Vanity was undoubtedly on top of the world with the release of her biggest hit, “Nasty Girl,” which was produced by Prince. Her group, Vanity 6,  was subsequently a major part of Prince’s 1999 tour, but soon after the tour’s conclusion, Vanity would sever ties, and search for solo glory.

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A solo deal with Motown would follow, and lead to perhaps my favorite Vanity moment, as she starred in one of Black America’s most revered movies, The Last Dragon (“can you teach me some moves!”)

Ultimately, Hollywood was not where Vanity wanted her life’s work solely rested on, and she quit the industry to become an evangelist.

I won’t pretend to know how happy she was to leave behind the glitz and glamour, but what I will say is that from the outside looking in, she appeared to always live her life to the fullest … for better or for worse.

So rest in peace, Denise “Vanity” Matthews … you will always have a special place in our hearts, for your beauty, your voice, and your unashamed journey to self-discovery.

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