[REMOVE ADS]




Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1

    New Valerie Simpson Interview

    Valerie Simpson on life without Nick Ashford

    Singer/songwriter deals with mortality after husband's death
    Greg Kot/ Chicago Tribune

    Valerie Simpson says she never really used to think much about posterity. After all, there was still so much work to be done with her musical partner and husband, Nick Ashford.

    But then Ashford died last August at age 70 of complications from throat cancer, and Simpson, 65, came to grips with mortality, both personal and artistic.

    "Nick's passing made me realize that one day we'll both be absent," she said in her first major interview since her longtime partner's death. "You see certain things that are happening now because of his passing, and I'm content to know that the music is everlasting."

    Ashford and Simpson were triple-threat songwriters, producers and performers who had a hand in crafting dozens of hits that straddled the Motown, disco and MTV eras. They wrote signature tunes for Ray Charles ("Let's Go Get Stoned"), Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell ("You're All I Need to Get By"), Diana Ross (her radical, Ashford-Simpson-produced remake of the Gaye-Terrell hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), Chaka Khan ("I'm Every Woman"), among others.

    From her office in New York this week, Simpson reflected on her life and what's ahead:

    Q. How did you maintain both a marriage and a working relationship with your spouse?

    A. We had the good fortune to be friends first, writing partners for eight years. He had other girlfriends and I had other guys in my life. I got to see how he really was, and vice versa. So when the romance came, we could skip over a whole lot of stuff (laughs). At first, people would always wonder why we weren't a couple, and I'd say, "He's like a brother to me." Later on, he told me that really bugged him (laughs).

    Q. You met him when you were only 17 and playing gospel in a church choir in Harlem. What was Nick like?

    A. When I met him, he had just come to New York (from Michigan). We found out that he wrote gospel songs, and the gospel group we were part of needed new songs. He had a knack for lyrics. At the church, they had a piano and then there were rehearsal studios we could rent for $15, and we clicked. A person who came to our church and heard us sing gospel asked us if we could also write love songs, because he wanted to help us publish them. Pretty soon it was all about the area around 50th Street and Broadway, where publishers were looking for material.

    Q. How did you come to work with Motown?

    A. (The legendary Motown songwriting and production team) Holland, Dozier, Holland came to New York scouting talent. We had pretty good demos, pretty developed. I'd play piano, and we'd put a little rhythm section on there because Scepter Records had given us a little space to do our songs. They were impressed with that, and the next thing I know we're going to Detroit, which is weird because that's where Nick had just come from. But I was ready to leave New York. Motown was the mecca. It was every writer's dream to work there.

    Q. You ended up writing all the key hits for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Did you request to work with them?

    A. Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol were producing Marvin and Tammi, and they asked us for material. We sent them 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough.' It's funny because Dusty Springfield had just come to town (looking) for material. We played that song for her but wouldn't give it to her, because we felt like that could be our entree to Motown. Nick called it the "golden egg."

    Q. You knew it was going to be a hit?

    A. Oh, we knew that it was a hit. Sometimes you have real gut feeling about something. Then it becomes a question of what do you do with it, and who can carry it the furthest, and you start designing how you can get it to as many people as possible.

    Q. Diana Ross has a reputation as a diva, difficult to work with. How was she working with you?

    A. She came in prepared, she knew the songs, knew her lyrics. When you work with someone who knows what they want, even if she is a diva, we knew how to finesse it, how to stroke her. She also wanted hits, and she was very much about business.

    Q. There are some Motown people who contend that near the end of Tammi Terrell's life (she died in 1970 at age 24 of cancer), you had to step in and do some of her vocal parts on the albums with Marvin Gaye because she was too ill to perform. Is that true?

    A. Tammi was very ill. We would have everything ready, the track and Marvin's vocal, and then I'd get her alone in the studio and we'd go line by line. There were a couple things that were tweaked, but not a lot. I couldn't just sing like Tammi. People give me the credit of thinking I could be Tammi Terrell, but it's just not true. We did some production edits to fix things, but that's about it.

    Q. You transitioned from being behind the scenes in the '60s and early '70s as songwriters and producers to performing and recording as Ashford and Simpson in 1973. Was performing your own material always the goal?

    A. No, the goal was to be songwriters first. We did a (public-television) show called "Soul!" the first time we had a TV appearance and got to sing and perform. They got so many letters, which clued us in that maybe we should try this. The timing was right. Our contracts at Motown, which were for seven years, were up around 1973. We asked them about being recording artists, and they were going to placate us, string us along, but they wanted us to remain a writing machine for the acts they had. They weren't taken with us as artists. I had done two solo albums for them, which they didn't do much to sell or promote. So the handwriting was on the wall to go somewhere else and do it. That's when we signed to Warner Bros. and started recording albums.

    Q. Will you do any more recording?

    A. I have to go one day at a time. I'm not used to him not being here yet. I'm open to music and hopefully his spirit will stay with me and give me a hint.



    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20111119/...#ixzz1eBwG0g6m

  2. #2
    Thank you Skool.

    Valerie had one great Motown album.......Exposed. Too bad it didn't do better. I do remember Billboard ads for it and I do remember liner notes by Diana Ross. But it just never happened.

  3. #3
    Hey Rob
    I think there were two great albums by Val with Motown.

    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Thank you Skool.

    Valerie had one great Motown album.......Exposed. Too bad it didn't do better. I do remember Billboard ads for it and I do remember liner notes by Diana Ross. But it just never happened.

  4. #4
    Skool...thanks for sharing that. It's always a wonderful thing to hear directly from Valerie about her music and her life...and, now, to hear her address the loss of Nick...which many of us feel...

  5. #5
    An Evening with Valerie Simpson (video)

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?sec...cal&id=8438833

  6. #6
    I had the great fortune to sit with Ashford & Simpson, Luther Vandross and Fonzi Thorton when I was invited to an Ashford & Simpson after concert party after one of their appearances at Radio City in the late 80s, early 90s. It remains on of the most magical nights in my life. Nick and Luther and I were going on and on extolling the greatness of Diana. Both Luther and Nick were very animated and positive. Valerie was a little reserved. In retrospect, I had thought that maybe Valerie felt upstaged by our focus on Diana, only to learn years later, that she was just shy and didn't like to talk as much as Nick did. We know that Diana has said that she tried to emulate Valerie from the demos of the songs. I think both ladies had tremendous respect for each other and simply didn't verbalize it as much. I think, if she is up to it, Valerie should fulfill the performing commitments that she and Nick had. Maybe she could invite strong male singers like Howard Hewitt, Jeffrey Osborne or possibly even Fonzi Thorton (since he sung background on many of their records) to sub for Nick on some of the dates. Or she could do it all as a solo artist. We all know she can definitely pull it off.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by skooldem1 View Post
    An Evening with Valerie Simpson (video)

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?sec...cal&id=8438833
    Skool....another one. Thank you!

  8. #8
    I think Val should do it solo. Just my preference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bokiluis View Post
    I had the great fortune to sit with Ashford & Simpson, Luther Vandross and Fonzi Thorton when I was invited to an Ashford & Simpson after concert party after one of their appearances at Radio City in the late 80s, early 90s. It remains on of the most magical nights in my life. Nick and Luther and I were going on and on extolling the greatness of Diana. Both Luther and Nick were very animated and positive. Valerie was a little reserved. In retrospect, I had thought that maybe Valerie felt upstaged by our focus on Diana, only to learn years later, that she was just shy and didn't like to talk as much as Nick did. We know that Diana has said that she tried to emulate Valerie from the demos of the songs. I think both ladies had tremendous respect for each other and simply didn't verbalize it as much. I think, if she is up to it, Valerie should fulfill the performing commitments that she and Nick had. Maybe she could invite strong male singers like Howard Hewitt, Jeffrey Osborne or possibly even Fonzi Thorton (since he sung background on many of their records) to sub for Nick on some of the dates. Or she could do it all as a solo artist. We all know she can definitely pull it off.

  9. #9
    I have Valeries solo albums, plus all the Ashford and Simpson Albums too. I play something from them most days. Wonderful, wonderful music. No matter my mood, there will be something there that will bring me up. When I had a recent medical op and related problems, Ashford and Simpson were there for me when it was touch and go. Their music has helped my recovery in so many ways. I am so sorry for the loss of Nick, but from Valeries interview, it shows me that the human spirit will go on. I only ever had the pleasure of seeing them live once, back in London, when Solid was a smash hit. What a show! I am so lucky that my Cancer is in remission. Nick, sadly never made it. His lasting legacy will. Now, if you will excuse me, i want to put on their Gimme Something Real LP...Paulo xxxx

  10. #10
    It was nice of Tammi to sing on Valerie's record. True friends for sure.

    Penny

  11. #11
    Val's 3 solo albums on Tamla were --
    EXPOSED== TS311== 1971
    VALERIE SIMPSON== T 317L== 1972
    KEEP IT COMIN'==T6-351S1== 1977 (A compilation of tracks from both previous albums. It was released the same year as WB's "So So Satisfied" and "Send It" , Nick and Val's year they really pulled out the big guns ,and Motown took advantage of that by putting it out)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    3,817
    Don't know how I missed this but what a great interview. I would hate to imagine music without the contribution of Nick & Val. I would love to hear her perform again as a solo artist even if she revisits some lesser known A&S compositons. In my book, Nick is irreplaceable.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    3,817
    By the way, I have a 5 hour flight to LA in the morning and note that while I'm awake I will be grooving to Nick & Val along with the ton of othet music on my iPod.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

[REMOVE ADS]

Ralph Terrana
MODERATOR

Welcome to Soulful Detroit! Kindly Consider Turning Off Your Ad BlockingX
Soulful Detroit is a free service that relies on revenue from ad display [regrettably] and donations. We notice that you are using an ad-blocking program that prevents us from earning revenue during your visit.
Ads are REMOVED for Members who donate to Soulful Detroit. [You must be logged in for ads to disappear]
DONATE HERE »
And have Ads removed.