Date of Interview: 01/30/2009
© 2009 Clayton Perry
Over the past four decades, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson have penned hits for some of the music industry’s foremost stars, including Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Chaka Khan. And more recently, their work has inspired a generation of newer, younger artists, who were raised on their timeless hits: Amy Winehouse on “Tears Dry on Their Own” (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”), 50 Cent on “Best Friend” (“Silly Wasn’t I”) and Whitney Houston on the ubiquitous “I’m Every Woman.”
Although Nickolas and Valerie are best known for being a successful songwriting and production duo, they developed quite a reputation as performers, too. After a three-week stand in New York at Feinstein’s at the Regency, Ashford & Simpson decided to tape their live show and chronicle the experience—dubbing it as The Real Thing. Living up to its name, the concert does not disappoint.
Upon review of The Real Thing, Ashford & Simpson managed to squeeze some time out of their busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Barack Obama, “Gimme Something Real” and the arduous task of writing the score for E. Lynn Harris’ Invisible Life.