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Vanity (singer)

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Denise Matthews

Soul, R&B, funk

Patricia Matthews


Years active

Vanity (singer) Beauty Denise Matthews Vanity Prince amp his Purple

Birth name
Denise Katrina Matthews

Also known as
Denise Matthews-Smith,D.D. Winters

January 4, 1959 (age 65) Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (

Singer, songwriter, model, actress, dancer

Motown, A&M, GeffenWarner Bros. (with Vanity 6)

Anthony Smith (m. 1995–1996)

The Last Dragon, Action Jackson, Tanya's Island, Never Too Young to Die, Terror Train

Similar People
Apollonia Kotero, Susan Moonsie, Taimak, Brenda Bennett, Anthony Smith

Music group
Vanity 6 (1981 – 1983)

Vanity undress soul train 1988

Denise Katrina Matthews (January 4, 1959 – February 15, 2016), better known as Vanity, was a Canadian singer, songwriter, dancer, actress and model, who turned away from her music and acting career to concentrate on evangelism. Her career lasted from the early 1980s until the mid-1990s. She was the lead singer of the female trio Vanity 6 from 1981 until it disbanded in 1983. They are known for their 1982 R&B/funk hit "Nasty Girl". Vanity's music career also included two solo albums on the Motown Records label, Wild Animal and Skin on Skin, as well as the minor hit singles "Pretty Mess", "Mechanical Emotion", "Undress" (from the movie Action Jackson), and "Under the Influence". She also had a successful film career, starring in the movies The Last Dragon, 52 Pick-Up, and Action Jackson. Throughout the 1980s to the 1990s, Vanity appeared in many magazines around the world. She died on February 15, 2016, at the age of 57, due to renal failure.


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Early life

Vanity (singer) VanityBlame it on Motown

Vanity was born on January 4, 1959 as Denise Katrina Matthews in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, she was the daughter of Helga Senyk and Levia James Matthews. Her mother was of Polish, German, and Jewish descent and was born in Germany, while her father was of African-Canadian descent and was born in Wilmington, North Carolina.


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Vanity began entering local beauty pageants before moving to Toronto, where she modeled. She won the Miss Niagara Hospitality title in 1977 and went on to compete for Miss Canada in 1978. At age 17, she moved to New York City to further her career. She signed with Zoli Model Agency. However, because she was short in stature, her modeling career was limited to commercials and photo shoots and included no runway work. Vanity appeared in ads for Pearl Drops toothpaste, before completing a modeling stint in Japan.


Vanity (singer) VanityBlame it on Motown

In 1980, she had a small role in the horror movie Terror Train, which was filmed in Montreal a year earlier. She then went to Toronto to film the lead role in the B-movie Tanya's Island. At the time of both film roles, she was billed as D.D. Winters. In 1980, she met Prince at the American Music Awards. Prince renamed her Vanity, as he considered her to be the female form of himself. After learning that Vanity could sing, Prince asked her to become the lead singer of the girl group Vanity 6. Vanity 6 recorded one album, and had some success internationally with the single "Nasty Girl". Vanity then left the group (and Prince's organization), and signed with Motown Records as a solo artist in 1984. She released two albums for Motown in the mid-1980s, and had mild success on the US pop and R&B charts with a handful of singles.

After her music career started, as Vanity she starred in a number of movies, including The Last Dragon (1985), which featured her underground hit "7th Heaven." In 1986 she starred in Never Too Young to Die opposite John Stamos. The film also featured Gene Simmons. She went on to appear in 52 Pick-Up and 1988's Action Jackson, her highest profile role, in which she starred opposite Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, and Sharon Stone. From the mid–1980s to the early–1990s, Vanity guest–starred on numerous TV shows. She played a villain who tortured Nancy Allen's character in the 1990 TV movie Memories of Murder, guest-starred in an episode of Miami Vice's third season, and in 1992 appeared in an episode of Highlander: The Series. She also appeared in Friday the 13th: The Series in the episode entitled "Mesmer's Bauble".

She appeared nude in Playboy magazine in 1988.

Personal life

Besides Prince, Vanity was linked romantically to Adam Ant (who wrote the track "Vanity" about her on his Strip album) and Billy Idol. In 1987, she stated that she and Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx were engaged. She joked that she would become Vanity 6 (Sixx) again. They never married. In Sixx's 2007 autobiography, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, he describes his 1987 drug use with Vanity who was addicted to crack cocaine at the time. In 1995, she married football player Anthony Smith of the Oakland Raiders.

Christian conversion

In 1994, Vanity overdosed on crack cocaine and suffered from near-fatal renal failure. She recalled that after being rushed to the hospital, doctors said she had three days to live while on life support. She said that Jesus appeared to her at this time and spoke to her, saying, if she promised to give up her Vanity persona, he would save her. Upon her recovery, she completely renounced her stage name and career and became a born-again Christian. In 1995, she said, "When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine—interview, every tape, every video. Everything." She stated that she had chosen not to receive any further revenue from her work as Vanity, and cut off all ties with Hollywood and her former life in show business. After a kidney transplant in 1997, she decided to devote her life to Christ. She made speaking engagements at churches across the United States and worldwide. In 2010, she released her autobiography, Blame It On Vanity: Hollywood, Hell and Heaven.

Illness and death

Due to her kidney problems, which were caused by years of drug use while she worked as a performer, Matthews had to undergo peritoneal dialysis five times a day (each session was 20 minutes long). She suffered from sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis, a rare complication of a peritoneal dialysis, and died in a Fremont, California, hospital on February 15, 2016, from renal failure, aged 57. Her body was cremated and the ashes scattered off the coast of Hawaii. Coincidentally, Prince himself died two months later.

Studio albums

With Vanity 6

  • Vanity 6 (1982)
  • Solo albums

  • Wild Animal (1984)
  • Skin on Skin (1986)
  • Singles

    With Vanity 6


    Guest vocals

  • 1982: 1999, Prince; "Free" (backing vocals)
  • 1982: What Time Is It?, The Time; "The Walk" (spoken vocals)
  • 1982: What Time Is It?, The Time; "Wild and Loose" (spoken vocals, along with other Vanity 6 members)
  • 1986: El DeBarge, El DeBarge; "Secrets of the Night" (backing vocals)
  • Music videos

    Vanity appeared in seven released music videos:

  • 1982: "Nasty Girl", "He's So Dull" and "Drive Me Wild"
  • 1984: "Pretty Mess"
  • 1985: "7th Heaven" (video clips were from the movie The Last Dragon)
  • 1986: "Under The Influence"
  • 1988: "He Turned Me Out", a song performed by The Pointer Sisters from the soundtrack of Action Jackson. Vanity's co-star in the movie, Carl Weathers, appears alongside her in the video.
  • Soundtrack appearances

  • 1985: The Last Dragon; "7th Heaven"
  • 1988: Action Jackson; "Undress", "Faraway Eyes", and "Shotgun" with David Koz and featuring vocalist Kareem
  • References

    Vanity (singer) Wikipedia

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