Simpson, Valerie (1946—)

views updated

Simpson, Valerie (1946—)

African-American songwriter, performer, and record producer who, with her husband, became the writing team of Ashford and Simpson. Born in the Bronx, New York, on August 26, 1946; sister of Ray Simpson, lead vocalist for the Village People; studied music at Chatham Square School; married Nickolas Ashford (a songwriter), in 1974.

In 1964, fresh out of high school, Valerie Simpson teamed up with Nickolas Ashford and began writing songs. With the success of the Ray Charles recording of their "Let's Go Get Stoned" (1966), they signed on with Berry Gordy's Motown organization and wrote a series of hits for other performers, including Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 's romantic duets "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "You're All I Need to Get By" and Diana Ross ' "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," which set Ross' solo career in motion after her break with The Supremes . During this time, Simpson also made two impressive solo albums, Exposed! (1971) and Valerie Simpson (1972), which are often overlooked because they did not sell well.

The pair launched their own performing career—as Nick & Valerie—in 1973 (a year before their marriage), with the albums Keep It Comin' (Motown) and Gimme Something Real (Warner Bros.). Their first breakthrough success was in 1977 with the gold album Send It, which included the Top Ten R&B hit "Don't Cost You Nothing." It was followed by another gold-seller, Is It Still Good to Ya?, considered their best album of the 1970s. Yet a third gold album, Stay Free (1978), contained the single "Found a Cure," another song making the pop Top 40. Their biggest album hit of all time was Solid in 1984.

Meantime, the couple continued to tour and create hits for such clients as Diana Ross, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Whitney Houston , for whom they wrote "I'm Every Woman," which was included on the soundtrack of The Bodyguard in 1993.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

About this article

Simpson, Valerie (1946—)

Updated About content Print Article