She may have been born January 4, 1959 as Denise Katrina Matthews but the world remembers her 1982 contribution to pop music as the sultry lead singer of the group Vanity 6 (Made up of Prince’s high school girlfriend Susan Moonsie and Boston native, Brenda Bennett)with the release of the dance smash; Nasty Girl. After one year, Vanity went solo and released her solo smash Under the Influence and rapidly began her descent into drugs and the decadent life.
Even to this day the Vanity’s music and Nasty Girl image is still pulling people on the dance floor and has influenced such artists as Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, En Vogue and the Pussycat Dolls.
Well it is a new day and today, Vanity is no longer a nasty girl and hasn’t been for the last nineteen years when she decided to give her life to Christ and became a born again Christian. She’s under a new influence and her Evangelical message is currently influencing millions of Christians.
Denise gave her life to Christ after the excessive abuse of smoking crack cocaine caused her kidneys to fail; preparing her for certain death. She was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and was immediately put on life support. Denise recalls,“Being told you have three days to live, it doesn't matter how you come to Jesus, JUST COME! I really gave Him my life that day. I remember praying to Jesus ‘Do whatever it takes just please don't let me die,’ I made promises I would leave Egypt and never go back, except of course to preach.”
The Canadian born again beauty went blind for six months because of high blood pressure and other complications. Denise truly was living the creed, no test no testimony.“Well that's a load of testimony right there! However, I am busy overcoming many issues in my life. That’s a hard place going through tremendous torturous fires in your body. I’m still going through it, I just had three more surgeries in the last eight years. My body would rather be home in Heaven however as King David said I must serve my generation, I give Jesus my best, and I love all people, even my enemies I have learned to love. All that to say how important it is to know that Jesus meets you in the fire and goes through with you, and we always come out like the three Hebrew boys -- without that burnt smoke smell on our bodies learning magnificent lessons and overcoming.”
Due to the effects on her kidneys of years of drug use while a performer, she must now undergo peritoneal dialysis three days a week (each session is 20 minutes long). Today she lives with only one regret,“Being without Jesus for so many years,”Denise offered.“I wish I was saved my whole life!”
Denise finds strength and grace in all aspects of her life, living in a constant state of gratitude for the second chance at living life."Everything works together for the good of the love of God and are called according to His purpose,”offers Denise."I got purpose and His name; Jesus. Eighteen years ago they said I would die, proclaiming death over my life, but Jesus! Amen, i am still here. isn't God great?”
After years of writing, editing and rewriting, Denise has finally released her autobiography, Blame It On Vanity. She says,“I have been writing this book for 18 years. When I had first finished it, God told me to throw it out -- it is time to grow up. Inside the pages I had told all the dirt, my dirt, their dirt his dirt and everything anyone has ever done to me.”
The autobiography is not a gossip book filled with secrets and scandal, instead Denise chose to write a very truthful account of her tumultuous childhood and rock star life. In answer to the question what will people reading this book receive, she says,“A lot of the inside of me, real truth telling. They will read of two relationships mostly the one of Prince, the other of King Jesus.”
Another relationship in the book has to do with the physical, emotional and psychological abuse she and her sisters faced from her biological father. Denise doesn’t like talking about it publicly which is why she wrote about her childhood pain in her book. She says,“That is a long story I would prefer you read the chapters, plus you will cry and get your computer all wet!” There was a faint glimpse of closure between Denise and her father when he was on his death bed and looked up at Denise and said, “I love you Denise!” Her chilling reply, “You know what i said? Phillipe, I never believed him.”
Before she blamed her life on Vanity, she first blamed it on her father Denise says,“Yes I did, but now I blame me for everything after he died and I continued to live. ”She was fifteen when he died and did not forgive him until or herself until she was saved. “Yes until I came to Jesus in 1991.”
Her last relationship she profiles in the book was her marriage to football player Anthony Smith, of the Oakland Raiders. They divorced in 1996. She recalls,“Yes, I was married. I have a sincere love relationship with my soul mate, whom I finally yearned for; Jesus my Father, my God amen! My ex divorced me, I followed Jesus. He went the other way, I forgave him for cheating. God said ‘Let no man put asunder what God has joined together.’ Some of us have put our own wrong together without listening to Jesus, that's another story. I have been a celibate virgin for almost fourteen years.”
In closing, I asked Denise what advice would she give women and men wanting to pursue their dreams but have a similar childhood story?“Find Jesus, Follow Jesus, Seek Jesus and never leave Jesus. The whole world is going to pot but Jesus, now Him you can trust, the world is Egypt. I am afraid for those that deny Him, or those that have known Him and walked away.”
Between praising God, dialysis and signing autographed copies of her book, Denise finds time to work on the launch of Pure Heart Ministries.“We bring souls to Jesus,”Denise says,“I preach wherever God sends me and I do not charge. I am not a wealthy woman as most suppose. I live for Jesus, people give me offerings, God supplies all my needs...amen?! Love and more love!”