An Evening with Valerie Simpson in Honor of Nick Ashford provides an inside look at the life and career of the legendary singer-songwriter duo Ashford & Simpson. Taped in 2011 in front of a live audience at Northwestern University Law School's Thorne Auditorium, the program features the first public interview of R&B icon Valerie Simpson after the untimely death of her husband and songwriting partner, Nick Ashford. Simpson's review of her life is guided by noted journalist and host Gwen Ifill and includes showstopping musical performances by Patti Austin and Kindred the Family Soul.
As songwriters and performers, Ashford & Simpson have long ranked among the most acclaimed and admired creative couples in modern music. Their award-winning collaborations span from writing Ray Charles' hit "Let's Go Get Stoned" to helping shape Berry Gordy's Motown musical dynasty with songs for artists like Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross. Their hits include "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)." After Ashford & Simpson left Motown in 1973, they continued to write songs and produce for other artists like Chaka Khan (penning "I'm Every Woman") and Teddy Pendergrass, while launching their own successful career as performers. They garnered four gold records and their smash hits included "Send It," "Is It Still Good to Ya," "Stay Free" and "Solid."
During the evening, Simpson candidly talks about first meeting Nick Ashford in New York City at the White Rock Baptist Church, falling in love with him and the legacy that they will leave behind. In addition, she discusses the duo's Motown experience and all the wonderful artists who they have worked with as well as making it as solo performers.
Ashford & Simpson are recipients of the Founder's Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the Pioneer Award from the prestigious Rhythm & Blues Foundation and members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Of their many honors and awards, two stand out as special milestones to Simpson: her name on a street sign in her hometown's Bronx Walk of Fame and a park bench inscribed with "Nick Ashford slept here," presented by Valerie to Bryant Park, symbolizing the long journey the couple traveled together since that fateful day at White Rock Baptist Church.