The brilliant singer-songwriter on her life and the women who helped shape it

Valerie Simpson, of the songwriting, producing, and recording duo Ashford & Simpson, brought a string of timeless hits to the world, from “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “I’m Every Woman,” and, of course, “Solid.” From the 1960s to the present day, Simpson has not only performed and recorded her own work but written songs for Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, and many more. Valerie’s work has had an outsize influence on the world of music for decades.

But who influenced her? Join Valerie and NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber for an hour of words and music that will focus on the iconic women who made Valerie the genre-defining artist she is, including Maya Angelou, Nina Simone, and Cicely Tyson. Valerie will share her memories of them, and of her decades in the business, including her time in Motown and her performing career with her husband and musical partner Nickolas Ashford.

This virtual conversation with music is part of a new series at NJPAC: Every month, a special guest visits our virtual theater to talk about their own favorite artists — and share a few indelible songs. NJPAC’s John Schreiber joins our featured guest in a wide-ranging discussion, taking a deep dive into timeless music and tales of the legendary artists who brought it to life.

The American Song series at NJPAC is presented, in part, through the generous support of the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, the David S. Steiner and Sylvia Steiner Charitable Trust, and the Joan and Allen Bildner Family Fund.