Before rappers Lil Kim and Nikki Menage wore lingerie on the stage, Prince protege Vanity and her group Vanity 6 made sexy an art. The 8os pop star lost her battle to kidney disease this week, dying at the age of 57.
Before she began her singing career, Matthews was a beauty pageant contestant and model before being discovered by Prince, who was responsible for coming up with the mononymous moniker Vanity.
Soon she joined and became the headliner of the female R&B trio Vanity 6, which was assembled and produced by Prince. The group went on to gain fame with their 1982 hit “Nasty Girl.” She ended up leaving the group and pursuing a solo career after signing a deal with Motown Records.
Vanity also worked as an actress, with her first big role in 1985’s “The Last Dragon”. She went on to appear in several low-budget genre pictures such as “52 Pick-Up”, “Action Jackson” and the sci-fi cult classic “Neon City”.
In 1994, Vanity suffered near-fatal renal failure after overdosing on crack cocaine. She barely survived the experience, and thereafter became a born-again Christian. She renounced her Vanity persona and devoted her life to evangelism.
She detailed her conversion, as well as the darker elements of her life in the spotlight, in her 1999 memoir “Blame It On Vanity.”
She set up a GoFundMe asking for financial support a few months ago after a long battle with kidney failure stemming from a drug overdose in 1994 required her to undergo daily dialysis.
Vanity died after a battle with sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis (SEP) more recently, which causes an inflammation of the small intestines, compounded her health issues, according to TMZ.
On the GoFundMe page, the singer wrote about her trials and tribulations.
“I went into the emergency twice this week, boy it is not fun suffering in this body of weak flesh…” She wrote. “But Jesus is straightening out all my crooked places in my heart as i go thru this time of pain….i won’t complain!”
Social media lit up with tributes from friends and fellow celebrities like Sheila E, Solange Knowles, Questlove, and MC Hammer.