Ashford and Simpson were an American r&b-soul duo formed by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.
Born in Fairfield, South Carolina, in 1941, Nickolas grew up in Willow Run singing in a church choir while Valerie, born in 1946 in the Bronx, comes from a very musical family that includes her brother Ray Simpson, lead singer of The Village People.
Nick and Valerie met in a Harlem church in 1963 and scored their first songwriting hit three years later with Ray Charles’ recording of their “Let’s go get stoned”.
Shortly after, they signed with the Motown record company as writers. The success of the songs “Ain’t no mountain high enough” and “Your precious love”, performed by Marvin Gaye in 1967, allowed them to collaborate with other artists like The Supremes, Four Tops and Chaka Khan.
As performers, Ashford and Simpson released several albums releasing US top 40 hits: “Solid” and “Found a cure”.
They also were active in the restaurant business with restaurant/clubs in New York.
During the late ’80s and two following decades, the couple continued to tour and record sporadically, until complications from throat cancer took Ashford’s life on August 22, 2011, just four days before Valerie’s 65th birthday.
Since then, Simpson released a solo album in 2012, titled “Dinosaurs are coming back again”, and she was featured on the title track for the neo-soul duo, Kindred and the Family Soul’s, 2014 album “A couple friends”.
In 2018, she played the role of Mama Morton in the Tony-winning revival of Chicago musical.