Valerie Simpson is the voice of truth. The melodies and chord progressions she renders on the piano reflect an intimate understanding of the heart. When she sings, her connection with listeners goes beyond notes. It’s one soul speaking to another.
As a composer and producer, Simpson sparked a body of work that remains unrivaled in its scope and power. “Valerie Simpson along with her husband Nick Ashford composed some of the most uplifting and memorable songs of the Motown tradition,” says Michael McDonald, who paid homage to Ashford & Simpson on Motown (2003) and Motown Two (2004). “Their songs transcended the usual boundaries of pop music and took us to a higher plane of thought and feeling. Valerie is a treasure to us all but especially to the American Songbook.”
Indeed, the songs Ashford & Simpson penned and produced are more than timeless hits. They’re paragons of popular music. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell were among the first artists to record Ashford & Simpson’s work during the songwriting duo’s golden epoch at Motown, popularizing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”, and “You’re All I Need to Get By”. Other producers and record companies paid attention. In fact, over a three-year period, singular talents like Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson, and Aretha Franklin each recorded the latter tune in their own distinct style, bringing” You’re All I Need to Get By” out of Motown and into the realm of contemporary pop standards ...
[Click to read more of Valerie Simpson's interview with Christian John Wikane for PopMatters.]