Nick Ashford passed away last week. He and his wife Valerie Simpson founded the Sugar Bar, which is next to our home (and a stop on the Rock Around the Block tour of the Upper West Side). Here's some of the floral tributes that began to quickly appear after Nick's death was announced.
Yesterday we attended the memorial service for Nick at the Abyssinian Baptist Church up in Harlem, one of the most important religious institutions in the city. What a great New York experience. The evening featured lots of fervent preaching, a whole lot of good music, and a very moving set of eulogies, including one from Valerie, which was filled with love and laughter. It became clear that Nick was among the world's most blessed individuals - in love with his wife of more than 35 years, father to two lovely girls, possessed of a talent for writing simple, yet profound lyrics that are going to be sung for a long, long time, a true believer and a long-time member of a close church community (he and Val met at their church 47 years ago), and one of the most handsome, elegant men you will ever see.
He and Val used the Sugar Bar to display their African art collection but, more importantly, to mentor dozens of young artists - many of whom formed a very special chorus last night. The evening ended with that chorus and the thousand or so people in the room belting out "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand." Perfect.