Ashford & Simpson get personal on VFTB

The Real Thing at the Rrazz Room at the Hotel Nikko

November 3 - 15, 2009 Tuesdays- Fridays 8PM, Two shows Saturday at 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m.

222 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(866) 468-3399

About Ashford and Simpson:

As songwriters and performers, Ashford & Simpson have long ranked among the most acclaimed and admired creative couples in contemporary music.

Their award-winning collaborations began, incredibly, over four decades ago, in 1964 to be exact. That year they recorded an original song, "I'll Find You," as "Valerie & Nick," having met earlier that year in New York at the White Rock Baptist Church. Nickolas Ashford had just moved to New York from Detroit in pursuit of a theater career, having completed a course in modern dance at the University of Michigan.

Homeless upon arrival, he happened upon Bronx native Valerie Simpson, who had studied piano since the age of five and was playing and singing with the Harlem church's legendary choir. Nick joined the choir and the two began writing songs, selling their first batch, which included "I'll Find You," for $75.

They were soon signed to the legendary Scepter Records as staff songwriters, breaking through in 1966 when Ray Charles landed a major hit with their composition "Let's Go Get Stoned." This led to their signing with Motown Records, where they penned the classic Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell hits "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Your Precious Love, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Good Lovin' Ain't Easy to Come By."

They also wrote hits for other Motown greats, most notably Diana Ross, who launched her solo career with a hit remake of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" that was also produced by Ashford & Simpson, as were such later A&S-written hits as "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "The Boss." But the songwriting/producing duo had its own recording/performing aspirations as well. While Valerie had scored with a pair of well-received solo albums for Motown in the early 1970s, it was with Warner Bros. Records that the by now married Ashford & Simpson fully realized their artistic vision.

From 1973 to 1981 they released nine albums, yielding such unforgettable hits as "Send It," "Don't Cost You Nothin'," "It Seems to Hang On," "Love Don't Make it Right," "Is It Still Good to Ya" and "Found a Cure." The hitmaking continued after a move to Capitol Records in 1982, with "Street Corner," "Highrise," "I'll Be There for You," and of course, "Solid," which topped the r&b chart in 1984 and crossed over to No. 12 on the pop singles chart. All the while they continued writing and producing for other artists, including Ben E. King, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Chaka Khan (they wrote her hit "I'm Every Woman") and Quincy Jones (they co-wrote and performed on his hit "Stuff Like That").

Their concert appearances, meanwhile, were exhilarating: Choreographed by Tony Award-winning George Faison, the shows incorporated stunning costumes and sets that made Ashford & Simpson a live attraction worthy of the best venues in the country. In fact, they were the only R&B act to perform at the historic Live Aid event in 1985, where they brought out Teddy Pendergrass to join in on "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" in his first performance following his tragic car accident, and later starred in concerts celebrating Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday and President Clinton's first inauguration.

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