Vanity (born Denise Katrina Matthews on January 5, 1959 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada) was a singer\model\actress who became a part of Prince's short-lived girl group, Vanity 6.
Growing up, Vanity's childhood was what she called "a broken home" when her parents divorced, her mother struggled with alcoholism, and her father became abusive. She spent most of her childhood moving back and forth with her parents & relatives.
Vanity started her career doing beauty pageants and at age 18, she moved to New York to pursue her career. Her modeling career mostly consisted of commercials & photoshoots and she starred in a few B-movies.
In 1982, Vanity met Prince at a backstage party for the 1982 American Music Awards where she was working as a model that night. Prince named her Vanity and later that year, she became the lead singer for Prince's girl group, Vanity 6.
Vanity 6 received moderate success, but in 1983, Vanity left the group. There are a couple reasons why she left the group such as wanting more money for the "Purple Rain" movie she was originally in, Vanity's relationship with Prince fell apart and they argued about her crack cocaine addiction.
In 1984, Vanity signed to Motown Records and released her debut solo album, "Wild Animal" which peaked at #72 on the Billboard 200 and #14 on Billboard's R&B albums chart.
Her first single "Pretty Mess" peaked at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100, #13 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play Singles chart and #15 on Billboard's Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 14 weeks.
The second single from the album "Mechanical Emotion" peaked at #107 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart and #23 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 13 weeks. R&B singer Morris Day provided backing vocals on the song.
In 1985, Vanity was featured on the soundtrack to the movie "The Last Dragon" with the song "7th Heaven."
In 1986, Vanity released her second album "Skin on Skin" which peaked at #66 on the Billboard 200 and #18 on Billboard's R&B albums chart.
Her highest chart appearance to date "Under the Influence" peaked at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100, #18 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart and #9 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 14 weeks.
The follow-up single from the album "Animals" flopped. Vanity was dropped from Motown, so she signed to A&M Records and later moved on to Geffen Records.
In 1988, she recorded a few songs for the "Action Jackson" movie soundtrack with "The Time" member Jesse Johnson along with working on a third album with producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, but the album was never released which ended Vanity's music career.
Vanity went on to star in a few television shows and movies, but she soon gave up her "Vanity" persona to become a born-again Christian in 1994.
The reason for that was she nearly died from the effects of crack cocaine and according to Vanity, she was on life support and had three days to live in the hospital. She says that Jesus spoke to her and saved her if she gave up her "Vanity" persona. She had a kidney transplant in 1997 and due to her long-term drug use, she was placed on dialysis.
Vanity became an evangelist, traveling at churches overseas & in the United States. In 2010, she released her autobiography called "Blame it on Vanity: Hollywood, Hell and Heaven."
Sadly on February 15, 2016, Vanity passed away in a hospital in Fremont, California due to renal failure. She was 57 years old.
Rest in peace, Vanity. You will always be remembered.
To see the music video for "Pretty Mess," go to:
To see the music video for "Under the Influence," go to:
To see the music video for "7th Heaven," go to:
To see a fan-made video for "Mechanical Emotion," go to:
[Updated on 02\18\2016]