Denise 'Vanity' Matthews, singer and protege of Prince, dies at 57

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Denise 'Vanity' Matthews, singer and protege of Prince, dies at 57
Portrait of the Canadian singer, actress, and model Vanity (born Denise Matthews), as she poses in costume during a cover shoot for funk group Cameo's 'She's Strange' album, 1984. Vanity did not perform on the record. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
CANADA - DECEMBER 04: Denise Matthews (Vanity) (Photo by Jeff Goode/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Portrait of the Canadian singer, actress, and model Vanity (born Denise Matthews), as she poses in costume during a cover shoot for funk group Cameo's 'She's Strange' album, 1984. Vanity did not perform on the record. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
Vanity now known as Denise Matthews performs with the group Vanity 6 on the TV Show 'Solid Gold'. (Photo by Ron Wolfson/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Vanity now known as Denise Matthews performs with the group Vanity 6 on the TV Show 'Solid Gold'. (Photo by Ron Wolfson/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Vanity now known as Denise Matthews performs with the group Vanity 6 on the TV Show 'Solid Gold'. (Photo by Ron Wolfson/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Vanity now known as Denise Matthews performs with the group Vanity 6 on the TV Show 'Solid Gold'. (Photo by Ron Wolfson/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Vanity now known as Denise Matthews performs with the group Vanity 6 on the TV Show 'Solid Gold'. (Photo by Ron Wolfson/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 19: Singer Vanity attends the premiere of 'A Fine Mess' on March 19, 1986 at the Comedy Store in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 16: Singer Vanity attends the press conference for Hands Across America on January 16, 1986 at Le Bel Age Hotel in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Singer Vanity sighted on November 7, 1986 at Tramp's Club in Beverly Hills, California. *** Local Caption ***
CENTURY CITY, CA - MARCH 21: Singer Vanity attends the premiere of 'The Last Dragon' on March 21, 1985 at the Plitt Theater in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MARCH 21: Singer Vanity attends the premiere of 'The Last Dragon' on March 21, 1985 at the Plitt Theater in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Group portrait of the members of American rhythm & blues and funk band Cameo, 1984. The singer and actress Vanity is pictured with the group. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JULY 9: Singer Vanity attends NBC TV Summer Press Tour on July 9, 1992 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JULY 9: Singer Vanity attends NBC TV Summer Press Tour on July 9, 1992 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Singer Vanity attends PCC Celebrity Art Show on September 11, 1991 at Stringfellow's in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - JULY 12: Singer Vanity attends the premiere of 'Die Hard' on July 12, 1988 at the Acvo Theater in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Singer Vanity attends the premiere of 'Action Jackson' on February 11, 1988 at Mann Village Theater in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Portrait of the singer Vanity, Chicago, Illinois, April 3, 1986. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 30: Singer Vanity attends the party for Prince on May 30, 1986 at Tramp's in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
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Denise Matthews, a former protege of Prince and lead singer of '80s group Vanity 6, has died from kidney failure, according to several reports. She was 57.

Matthews, more commonly known as Vanity, died Monday at a hospital in Fremont, Calif., where she lived. Matthews received a kidney transplant in 1997, but her health took a turn late last year after she was diagnosed with sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis, a severely painful kidney condition.

In 1994, Matthews' crack cocaine addiction caused an almost-fatal renal failure, and she later said Jesus Christ appeared to her, offering a second chance at life if she left behind her persona as Vanity. After her 1997 kidney transplant, Matthews became a Christian evangelist — a story she expanded on in her self-published autobiography "Blame It on Vanity."

The singer and actress had several hits in the early 1980s with Vanity 6, most notably "Nasty Gal," released in 1982. The sexual single made it to No. 1 on the Billboard dance charts, but did not perform well on the radio.

In 1984, Matthews disbanded Vanity 6. She released two solo records, "Wild Animal" and "Skin on Skin," after signing with Motown Records.

Matthews also pursued acting, starring in the Berry Gordy-produced "The Last Dragon" in 1985. She also appeared in "Never Too Young to Die" with John Stamos, "52 Pick-Up" and "Action Jackson."

Rapper MC Hammer paid tribute to Matthews via Twitter Monday.


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