SOLID! Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson Celebrated Love. In “Death” He Still Lives.

August 24, 2011 by  

August 22, I heard that Nick Ashford of  Ashford and Simpson had died. Why technically true, I know that the obvious is     not necessarily The Truth. I reflect on Nick Ashford.   The first time I heard Ashford and Simpson sing they performed the song, "SOLID." I loved it immediately, the song and them. The lyrics were positive, a celebration of love that would not be washed away by time, and it was so. Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson met in a church and formed a songwriting team. They married in 1974. In 2011 they were still a couple, looking good and still performing. Before  Ashford and Simpson became performers, the couple produced for Motown under the watchful eye of  Berry Gordy. The hits they wrote and produced were astounding. Ain't  No Mountain High Enough, Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing, They infused the airways with their interpretation of love and loyalty, and their ambassadors were some  of the most powerful names in R & B.   "SOLID," More than just a song.  "Solid " gave testimony that Ashford and Simpson were living versions of Yin and Yang, the Chinese explanation of the counter forces in the universe, masculine and feminine. When they come together in harmony, The Tao, The Way emerges. Ashford and Simpson formed a life-long partnership which bore harmonic fruit  that we can all still harvest at will. The legacy lives on, just as Valerie, herself continues with us. Take a moment to meditate on the song and the enthusiasm of the artists. SOLID (Asford and Simpson)   The director of the Solid video expressed a powerful love between a man and a woman. However any work of art, any creative endeavor has many layers. Each observer, or in this case, listener brings with it  a part of his own story or vision. The songs I love tend to touch me at a deeper level, perhaps at a deeper level than even the artist was conscious of. Although, I  certainly enjoyed Ashford's songs as love songs for men and women, I was also able to receive them at a spiritual level. In many of them I could hear The Master calling out to his beloved, The Lord promising the disciple his undying love, the disciple, lamenting his mistakes but recognizing the grace of forgiveness. And so Nick Ashford sang the songs and by doing so, transcended himself, he was Christ-like in his declaration of unshakable love and redemption. Once having heard the song, Solid and  then seeing Nick Ashford and his lovely and equally talented wife, Valerie perform. I would never forget their names, their faces, nor the effect the couple had.

It was no wonder Nick Ashford brought a vibrant kinetic energy to the duo. He aspired to make it as a dancer before discovering his talent as a songwriter and singer.  Nick and Valerie together were a hit=producing machine. Their songs celebrated the most positive and love-affirming ideas. Long before I knew who wrote the songs, I was blessed by  listening to Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell), For Your Precious Love (Jerry Butler) and many more songs. Who among us can forget the tremendous impact of Diana Ross singing, Ain't No Mountain  High Enough, the 25th anniversary of Motown celebration on television. How many  of us knew that the song was a product of  Ashford and Simpson. Ain't No Mountain High Enough has a special meaning for me. Years later I heard it in the middle of the night. It seemed to me the voice of my mother  was speaking to my soul in song. I spoke to my nephew, Pedro about it. The next morning my mother was dead. She was a very spiritual woman who always heard a song before someone in the local church where she attended died. It was a reminder that nothing, not even "death" could separate us from love. And that is the message. When I think of Nick Ashford, I immediately think of Valerie Simpson. Love heals,  love hurts, love can bind the wounds when we keep it close to our heart. Nick and Valerie openly displayed the power of solid love but that meant that they must  have learned the power of tolerance, forgiveness, and endurance because rarely can love overcome the challenges of time without any interference at all.  Staying power does not exist without the will to stay. Se owe a debt of gratitude to Nick Ashford for being an ambassador and a witness to the power of marital love, and to Valarie for all she gave. He and she made married love look "hot, hot hot."  That is why seeing them perform or just being together reminded me of Tao. The feminine and masculine forces meet in harmony and become, one and The Way of Life emerges. There are great messages to be found everywhere. There need not be a separation between the secular and the spiritual. We make it so. It is no surprise to me that Nick Ashford and Valerie  Simpson, as two young people, met in a church and then proceeded to create songs of love full of Gospel intensity. His work, their work perfumed the aura of other stars, including Chaka Khan. You may grasp the depths of  Ashford's sensitivity when you consisder this. He wrote her much celebrated and covered hit, I'm Every Woman. Yes, the famous women's anthem was written by Nick Ashford. Most people will say that on August 22, 2011, Nick Ashford died but remember that is not altogether true. His life was in  his music and his music still lives. The rhythm goes on, as does the love, that Valerie has for him, the love we have for him. His children will carry him onward also. Nick Ashford posed a question., Is It Still Good To ya? God loaned us Nick Ashford, and that loan has been called in. We should be grateful for the gifts he gave  to us. They will keep on giving so long as we love love. Is it still good? Yes, Nick. It is still good to me. Thanks. Kitabu Roshi


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