Ashford & Simpson were a husband-and-wife songwriting-production team and recording artists.
The duo was made up of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Nickolas Ashford began singing in a local gospel group called The Hammond Singers. He met Valerie Simpson at a Baptist Church in Harlem in 1964. They began recording as part of gospel group The Followers and went on to record several singles for various different labels.
They then began writing material for other artists, including Maxine Brown, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, and this brought them to the attention of Motown founder Berry Gordy. In 1966, Ashford & Simpson were signed to Motown, and were paired with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The songwriting duo produced essentially all of their hits. There is also debate over whether Valerie Simpson stepped in and recorded vocals with Marvin on some of their later songs, as Tammi’s replacement (at the time Tammi Terrell was suffering with brain tumor that would ultimately prove fatal).
Ashford & Simpson also produced almost all the songs on Diana Ross‘ three 1970s albums, as well working with several other artists signed to Motown, and some non-Motown artists (notably Chaka Khan with “I’m Every Woman”). Although Valerie Simpson recorded material for two Motown albums in the early 1970s, they left the company in 1973. The albums had recieved poor promotion and an album of the duo recording their own hit songs was refused release (?!).
They then signed with Warner Brothers and found considerably more success as recording artists, scoring hits with songs like (the fantastic) “Found A Cure” and “Solid” in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The two continued to record and tour sporadically until Nickolas Ashford’s death in 2011. Valerie Simpson has since released a solo album and remains active.