Friday, December 19, 2014

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NY1's Dean Meminger profiles some of soul and R&B's greatest performers as part of his ongoing series.

Soul's Survivors: One Half Of Prolific Singer/Songwriter Duo Adjusts To Solo Career

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A Bronx native who, for over 40 years, compromised one of the most successful singer/songwriter teams of their generation is now going at it alone. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report as part of his Soul's Survivors series.

Valerie Simpson is only looking forward nowadays, continuing to heal from the death of her husband and musical partner Nick Ashford. She's still looking over her shoulder for Nick when performing.

"The hardest thing for me now is to remember to keep singing," she says. "I've sung duets all my life, so I always want to lay out and let somebody come in. So now I have to keep singing. I have to sing the whole song and that is a new experience."

It's a new experience because the duo of Ashford and Simpson sang and wrote hits together for 45 years.

Their biggest contributions to music were songs they wrote for other R&B legends like Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, songs that will live on forever.

The duo wrote songs like "I'm Every Woman," which became a smash hit for Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston.

Valerie Simpson now has a new album of her own. It took a long time for this solo project to come together.

"For whatever reason, don't ask me why, it took 11 years for this thing to come forward," she says. "I think things happen the way they are supposed to and 11 years ago was not the right time."

But now it is. Simpson is getting into the groove of being solo with the support of friends and fans. She recently performed at the Beacon Theater, just blocks from her home. It was the first time she sang on a New York stage since Nick passed away in August of 2011.

"I was just like in a daze," she says. "There was so much love. I was hit with so much love, you could feel it coming across the foot lights. It just carried me."

Valerie was born in the Bronx and went to Morris High School. She played piano at a church in Harlem. She says her talents just came naturally at a very young age.

"I just sat down and I knew how to play," she says.

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