An Evening with Valerie Simpson

(FILE) Recording artists Nickolas Ashford, left and Valerie Simpson, right, arrive for the Inaugural Q Prize Award in New York in a Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007 photo. ( AP Photo/Rick Maiman, file)

November 21, 2011 5:22:04 AM PST
Valerie Simpson is behind some of the most memorable hits in modern music, written with her late husband Nick Ashford.

Their hits include "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand" for Diana Ross, "I'm Every Woman" for Chaka Khan and their own song, "Solid."

Simpson was in Chicago this weekend to help honor her late husband's legacy. "An Evening With Valerie Simpson" was taped Saturday night in Thorne Hall at Northwestern University's law school to be broadcast later on PBS.

"My daughters are here, and that makes me feel good. And with the spirit of Nick Ashford, I think I'll make it through. I have no choice," Simpson said.

Simpson says the lyrics of the songs she and Ashford wrote together have taken on new meaning since his death from throat cancer in August.

"Everything, I feel like I just want to fall down, there's a song that'll come to me or something he said that makes it possible to get on out and keep stepping," Simpson said.

The Chicago-based non-profit The Historymakers is committed to creating a state-of-the-art digital archive by recording and preserving the stories of trailblazing African Americans in America and around the world.

"It's really a chance to celebrate all that they did, their songwriting and their music that has influenced millions around the globe," Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of the organization, said.

Simpson and Ashford made music together for 47 years.

"I've already lived one full life, and so now I'm about to endeavor to see what else the good Lord has in store for me, and I'm wide open," Simpson said.

The singer-songwriter said she has been surprised by the number of people who've come up to her to tell her about the acts of kindness Ashford performed during his life. Simpson says she always knew she had a good guy, but now she knows she had a great guy.

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