Reflections On Songwriter, Producer And Performer Nicholas Ashford

Columnists, Kim's Kronicles — By on August 30, 2011 at 1:43 am

Nicholas Ashford (L) with Valerie Simpson. Photo by Kim Webster.

Nicholas Ashford (L) with wife and song partner Valerie Simpson. Photo by Kim Webster.


A Regal Presence Remembered

By Kim Webster

To see Ashford & Simpson perform on stage was mesmerizing. The way they sang, moved in harmony and complimented each other’s presence was heavenly.

Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson met in 1964 at Harlem’s White Rock Baptist Church in New York City. At the time Nicholas was homeless and stopped in the church to get something to eat. He saw Valerie, joined the church choir and they began writing songs together. They wrote the classic hit “Let’s Go Get Stoned” for Ray Charles while staffwriters at Sceptor Records. Moving on to Motown, they penned their second hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, later recorded by Diana Ross. Ashford & Simpson wrote numerous hits for Marvin and Tammi including “You’re All I Need To Get By” and “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing.” Their songwriting and production skills made hits for Chaka Khan with “I’m Every Woman,” “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” and “The Boss” for Diana Ross, “The Landlord” for Gladys Knight & The Pips, “Shoe, Shoe Shine” for the Dynamic Superiors and hits for numerous artists including The Fifth Dimension, Chuck Jackson, Maxine Brown, and The Shirelles.

Ashford & Simpson recorded several albums with numerous hits including “Solid,” “Don’t Cost You Nothing,” “Found a Cure,” “It Seems to Hang On,” and “Is It Still Good To Ya?” Many songs on Ashford & Simpson albums have been recorded by other artists notably “Have You Ever Tried It,” recorded by The Main Ingredient on their classic “Euphrates River” album. On their 1996 album “Been Found,” Ashford & Simpson collaborated with noted poet Maya Angelou. The couple have written over 350 songs, earned inclusively 22 gold and platinum records, been awarded over 50 ASCAP Awards and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. In the midst of their career they opened the Sugar Bar restaurant in New York City. While dining on a choice of Caribbean, American, or other foods, patrons are entertained at the restaurant by local or international performers.

Nicholas Ashford was born on May 4, 1941 in Fairfield, South Carolina. Sadly, he lost his battle with throat cancer on August 22, 2011. He was 70 years old. His regal presence and historical musical accomplishments will always be remembered. Our prayers go out to his wife Valerie and their children Nicole and Asia. Funeral services were held at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, NY on August 27, 2011.


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