‘Nasty Girl’-turned-evangelist Denise Matthews dead at 57

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(RNS) Denise Matthews, who performed the song “Nasty Girl,” had a career-changing, born-again experience that included renouncing her earlier ways, which included an addiction to crack cocaine.

“I sing to Jesus for Jesus now,” she told Rolling Stone. “This gives me pure joy … worship! I apologize profusely to those I have offended deeply a million times over.”

Matthews, who was known as “Vanity,” died Monday (Feb. 15) at age 57. She had been diagnosed with “sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis,” a life-threatening abdominal condition.

Matthews had collaborated with Prince and was the lead singer of Vanity 6, a 1980s female singing group. She said she turned away from drugs in the 1990s and converted to Christianity.

Denise Matthews recently attempted to raise money to cover her medical expenses through gofundme.com. Photo courtesy of gofundme.com

Denise Matthews recently attempted to raise money to cover her medical expenses through gofundme.com. Photo courtesy of gofundme.com

Recently, she attempted to raise money to cover her medical expenses through gofundme.com. As of Tuesday, her page on the crowdfunding site had raised more than $6,600 toward a $50,000 goal.

In an update posted four months ago, she wrote: “I went into the emergency twice this week, boy it is not fun suffering in this body of weak flesh… but Jesus is straightening out all my crooked places in my heart as i go thru this time of pain….i won’t complain!”

Fellow entertainers mourned via Twitter, noting Matthews’ Christian faith.

Drummer Sheila E. tweeted about her sadness that her “friend in Christ” had died.

“She absolutely loved GOD unto salvation,” MC Hammer said. “Rest in his Glory.”

(Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national reporter for RNS)

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  • Mary

    You know, I grew up in a strict church setting where people’s hearts were truly for GOD. Though there are some who fake their walk with GOD, I can tell you, after meeting Denise at the end of the 1990s, SHE TRULY WAS CONVERTED BY CHRIST!!! Virtually every time I saw her, she always wore the cutest business blazer with complimentary matching pants. Her outward appearance here was a representation of her transformation by GOD. She walked the walk when no one else was looking. There was a time that I passed some of my creative material to her and I can still hear her fussing, over 15 years later, because she felt only GOD could do what I had a particular character doing in the story. She constantly had to go to dialysis. When I communicated with her, she exercised on a regular basis and stopped eating at 6PM. She was disciplined. It’s good she allowed GOD to turn her life around in a good way. She regularly preached, too. She was a vessel transformed by GOD.

  • Linda Marshae Johnson

    I will truly miss my friend and Sis. In Christ Evangelist Denise Matthews. In spite of what she was going through she always spoke a word from God in every situation or circumstance. Evangelist would call me to check on me and see how I was going because I was dealing with an illness. She introduced me to the Jesus Christ For All Nations {jcfans.com} almost two years ago. She usually would lead the morning prayer line on Friday mornings, and I was so uplifted and inspired by her life which was a true demonstration of true Christian living. She ministered every chance that she had an opportunity to do so and was a true witness for Jesus Christ and Evangelized continuously. Evangelist Denise, l will miss you especially on the prayer line and our telephone conversations that were always positive and spirit filled. May you rest in peace. Your friend from NYC – Linda Marshae Johnson.

  • theladycandraw

    Her later life was spent glorifying the Lord. Only God is QUALIFIED to sit in judgment.

  • My wife and I just spoke with Sister Matthews a couple weeks ago. We were talking about getting a copy of her new book. She was so full of life but sounded tired. She was and will continue to be a Spiritual inspiration to others. We will miss you so much. Rest my sister because God is not finished with U yet. Love U!!! Rev John and Gwen Ward. Awaiting His Return Ministries

  • Valerie Jackson

    Denise Matthews, I grew up listening to your music and watching your movies. I always thought of you as a beautiful and talented woman. As a teenager, I wanted to be just like you. When I got older, I discovered that things aren’t always how you view them. I also know that everything happens for a reason. The things you went through in your life were painful but your circumstances brought you closer to GOD. I thank GOD for drawing you to him. Although you will be missed, I’m happy to know that you’re now in HIS presence. Love you always. Rest in peace.

    Your sister in Christ and number one fan