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Valerie Simpson to star at next SongHall 'Master Sessions at NYU' event

Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee Valerie Simpson will be the featured guest at the next Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions at NYU (New York University) event, to be held April 2 at The Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village.

Valerie Simpson
Maurizio Bacci/Babaldi

She’ll discuss her singular five-decade career as a songwriter, producer, and performer with songwriter Phil Galdston, the NYU Faculty Songwriter-in-Residence and Master Teacher in Songwriting.

"Valerie Simpson, with her husband and musical partner, the late Nick Ashford, has written songs that span generations and genre," says Dr. Ron Sadoff, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development's director of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, and its Songwriting Program. "Her extraordinarily rich and living body of work is indelibly embedded in our culture."

The Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions at NYU series is a collaboration between the Songwriters Hall and the NYU Steinhardt School's Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.

"We are fortunate at the Songwriters Hall of Fame to have a lot of depth in terms of songwriting talent," says the Songwiters Hall's chairman Jimmy Webb. "Val stands tall even in a land of giants. She is one of our finest songwriters, performers, and musicians, and is also among our most knowledgeable and experienced Hall of Famers. Her way with words and her unexpected comedic skills make her especially exciting to interview, and will clearly make this an unforgettable event."

With Ashford, Simpson wrote some of the most iconic songs in the history of popular music, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "Your Precious Love," and "You're All I Need to Get By" for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell; "Let's Go Get Stoned" for Ray Charles; "Is It Still Good To You?" for Teddy Pendergrass; "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and a customized version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" for Diana Ross; and "I'm Every Woman" for both Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston.

Performing together as Ashford & Simpson, they scored such hits as "Solid," "Don't Cost You Nothin'," "Street Corner" and "Found A Cure," and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. They also received the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers's (ASCAP) highest honor, the Founder's Award, and the Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award.

Most recently, Simpson released her third solo album, Dinosaurs are Coming Back Again, and she continues to tour while running New York’s popular Sugar Bar restaurant/nightclub, which she and Ashford founded to showcase new musical talent.

The Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions at NYU, which launched in 2011, were established to bring great songwriters to the New York University community. Curated by Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer Galdston, the sessions are part lecture, part performance, and part in-depth interview, and have previously featured Webb, the late Hal David, Glenn Frey, and Nile Rodgers.

"We're very fortunate to have Valerie join us for a Master Session," says Galdston. "Our students will have an extraordinary opportunity to benefit from her unique experience and insight into the art and craft of music-making and the reality of a career in the business."

[The Examiner has written liner notes for Ashford & Simpson CD and DVD releases.]

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