• Steve Berlack

The Ashford & Simpson Effect

Like many R&B fans the world over, I was shocked and saddened to

hear of the passing of Nicholas Ashford. After reading an article about

it, I reminisced about the soulful and inspiring music written, sung and

produced by Mr. Ashford and his beautiful wife Valerie Simpson. I spoke

to family and friends about him, and everyone shared pleasant memories

of where they were when they first heard tunes like “Solid” and “Ain’t

Nothing Like Th e Real Thing.”


When I remembered that the duo also wrote “Ain’t No Mountain High

Enough,” it struck me that their music has been deeply embedded not only

in Hollywood and history, but in our memories and hearts. Given that,

I was astounded to read that initially, the duo recorded songs as “Valerie

and Nicholas,” without much success. I was also surprised to learn that

they originally sold their songs for 75 cents a piece. My first reaction to

reading that was to think to myself: “What? They sold their songs for only

75 cents? Didn’t people know that they would become THE Ashford &

Simpson?” And then it hit me: they didn’t.


As “Valerie and Nicholas,” people placed value on them and on their songs

based on what they perceived of their talents. Without hit records already

in place, people simply couldn’t see the “Ashford & Simpson” in them. I’ve

never met them, but I would imagine that the only way they survived such

a dog-eat-dog world as the music business was to know their own intrinsic

value, to remember that they were doing what they were purposed to do,

and that the value of their songs were never subject to the perceptions of

others. By staying true to their values, they wrote the music that was right

for them, and the value of the songs soon became obvious, and priceless.


They never let anyone else's lack of knowledge about them determine the value

of “Valerie and Nicholas.” By remembering their true value, and by letting

their God-given talents shine under a 75 cent light, they transformed

Valerie and Nicholas into Ashford & Simpson. They transformed 75 cents

into millions.


And guess what? All of us have value way beyond the ignorance of people’s

perceptions of us. And more importantly, all of us have value way beyond

even our own ignorance of who we are or where we come from.


If you’ve never truly given thought to your value, explore it. If you’re not

completely clear about who you are or where you come from, identify it.

And if those around you don’t really know you or your value, broadcast it.

It’s up to you to transform the “Valerie and Nicholas” that everyone sees

in you into the “Ashford & Simpson” that you truly are. You can turn 75

cent experiences into a million-dollar life.