Artist formerly known as Vanity preaches at Owensboro church

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2001

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) -- Denise Matthews, a former sidekick to the pop artist Prince, recalled an abusive childhood and years of cocaine abuse in an hour-long sermon that enlivened a church crowd.

Matthews, 42, was known as Vanity while in Prince's band in the 1980s. She cut four solo albums and appeared in 17 movies, but said she wasn't happy until she recently found God.

''I have learned now how to be abased, to suffer need,'' Matthews told the packed crowd at Owensboro's Church Alive. ''I've learned these things through Christ.''

''I had a horrible childhood,'' she said. ''I didn't know what it was to be happy. I loathed myself.''

Once her musical career took flight, she said she started using cocaine.

She said she's been drug-free for nine years and has learned to overcome her bitterness about her childhood. She now travels to churches across the country preaching and urging others to turn to religion to overcome their problems.

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