Friday, July 12, 2024

Happy Birthday “Timeless” Valerie Simpson! Famed Songwriter Takes Family and Friends on Joyous Midnight Music Cruise Around Manhattan


What was I doing up, and cruising around the isle of Manhattan at 2am today? Why, celebrating the 73rd birthday of the eternally young and vibrant Valerie Simpson, co-writer with late husband Nik Ashford of some of the greatest songs of our lives.

Yes, the woman who helped birth “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Solid,” and “I’m Every Woman” treated her family and friends to a magnificent yacht cruise around Manhattan this morning — on a boat appropriately called “Timeless” that launched at midnight and returned at 4am! I was honored to be counted as a guest.

Among the other guests were Val’s daughters, Nicole and Aja, her brothers, her aide de camp Tee Austin, plus famed choreographer of “The Wiz,” George Faison, legendary rock and roll publicist Liz Rosenberg, great R&B singer Ryan Shaw, Earline Franklin (Aretha’s sister-in-law, and no, she’s not suing the estate), esteemed Berklee music professor Larry Watson, plus a couple dozen or more singers, musicians and friends from Ashford and Simpson’s gem of a hangout, the Sugar Bar, from West 72nd St.

There was dinner, dancing, and the very best music provided by DJ and the Yams (you can see them at the Sugar Bar). Plus Val surprised her guests with a hilariously talent performer named Shequida (aka Gary Hall) who is also a fine singer and really needs to be on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” ASAP.

Val told me, “I really wanted to invite everyone and not have them perform tonight. It was my gift to everyone else, all my friends!”

Well, I think you can see from the video below, a great time was had by all. We miss Nik a lot, but his family is keeping his memory alive. And Val, who can currently be seen in the Motown documentary on Showtime, is a spitfire and a delight. Her soul literally glows from within! And she can, as Rufus Thomas, liked to say, she can sainng! WHat a joyous experience1

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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