R&B legend Valerie Simpson and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner will be on hand for the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Honors in New York on Dec. 12, where both will receive awards honoring their distinguished careers. Simpson, the soul singer best known as one-half of the duo Ashford & Simpson with late husband Nick Ashford, will receive the ASCAP Foundation George M Cohan Friars Foundation Awards, while Wagner will receive the ASCAP Foundation Masters Award.
“Valerie, together with her husband Nick, has written some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century,” said ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams of the duo’s hits, which include “Solid,” as well as their songwriting on such tunes as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “I’m Every Woman.” “This award recognizes the whole of Valerie’s talents and her multifaceted career which continues to bring so much creative joy to so many people.” The Cohan Awards honors the work of a “multi-talented person connected to the music industry who has led a multi-faceted career and achieved success in a variety of roles including but not limited to composing performing, writing, directing and producing,” according to a press release announcing this year’s honorees.
Speaking of Wagner, Williams added, “We honor the career of distinguished concert composer, Melinda Wagner, for her rich catalog of work, her achievements, and recognize her important work as an educator and mentor. She is well-deserved to be the next recipient of The ASCAP Foundation Masters Award.” Simpson has been on the ASCAP Foundation board for 21 years, during which she established the Reach out and Touch Award honoring her late husband with the goal of advancing promising songwriters’ careers with financial assistance to make professional recordings of their work. Ashford & Simpson received ASCAP’s highest honor, The Founders Award, in March 1996.
Wagner, whose works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1999 for her Concerto for Flute, Strings and Percussion. In addition, Wagner has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship as well as awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and ASCAP. She currently serves as the chair of composition on the faculty of The Juilliard School of Music and gives master classes at Harvard, Yale, Eastman, Juilliard, and UC Davis. The Foundation Masters Award is presented to an ASCAP member who has “lived a life rich in artistic achievement, and whose music is matched by personal integrity and dedication to education.”