Denise Matthews, the former Prince protégé known as Vanity in the music industry, and a born-again Christian evangelist since 1992 who then condemned her own pop/rock lifestyle, died Monday. She was 57 years old. The cause of death was not disclosed, but Matthews reportedly had battled multiple health problems for decades, including kidney disease.
Matthews died at the Washington Hospital Health Care System in Fremont, Calif., according to hospital spokeswoman Gisela Hernandez, who confirmed her death to CNN. Sheila E, another musician associated with Prince who later turned to evangelism, also confirmed her death in a tweet, reports USA Today.
In December, Matthews had just released a new book entitled "Blame It On Vanity."
The New York Times quoted Matthews' sister, Renay Matthews, 47, who said her sister had checked into a hospital on Saturday night after struggling for years with health issues related to her kidneys. According to the fundraising page she set up on GoFundMe four months ago, she had been on dialysis for years but had recently been diagnosed with an often deadly condition called sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis.
Canadian-born, Matthews started out as a model and actress in the 1980s. She appeared in films such as The Last Dragon and 52 Pick-Up, according to IMDb.
When she turned to music, heading up an all-female band called Vanity 6, she developed a close relationship with Prince, who became her mentor. The group had a 1982 hit, Nasty Girl, and toured with Prince in the 1980s.
On her fundraising page, she said she had turned away from the pop/rock lifestyle, returned to using her birth name, and also got sick from her history of drug use.
"Prior to finding my Lord and Savior, I lived in the bottomless pit of Hollywood's deception. Lust, drugs, Rock n Roll....i was living in the depths of iniquity versed with carnality and suicidal thoughts of leaving this world," she wrote on her GoFundMepage.
She had high blood pressure and eventually suffered a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and blood clots in the brain, she wrote. She became blind and deaf, and was near death.
"With the devil breathing down my neck, trying desperately to snatch and strangle me for hell, I repented," she wrote. "I am Denise! no longer Vanity for the name means WORTHLESSNES...we are not worthless."
Matthews had just posted the following witnessing on Facebook on Jan. 30: "This we do know in Jesus that there is no such thing as death bed salvation or repentance, then we must tear out the page that tells us if we are not born again then we cannot enter into Heaven can't see it and won't ever get in. John 3... that is a doctrine that has no truth scripturally. People look to the man on the cross whom Jesus said that he would be with Him in paradise but make note still after Jesus Died and Rose again and lifted Himself to Heaven, He gave final commandments to His Apostles... He said Salvation would BEGIN IN Jerusalem LUKE 24 pls read...twice He said Jerusalem was where they must meet to receive the Holy ghost, which was His spirit...When Jesus gives us the Holy ghost we are now filled with His spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. His spirit given to us gives us all truth, His truth lives inside of us and we become witnesses."