Ashford Remembered At Funeral

click image to enlarge
August 30, 2011 | 7:35am EST

Legendary Motown songwriter Nickolas Ashford was laid to rest at a moving funeral service in Harlem, New York on Monday.
Ashford, who wrote some of Motown’s biggest hits with wife Valerie Simpson, died in a New York hospital last week after a battle with throat cancer, prompting stars including Lenny Kravitz and Sean Kingston to pay tribute to the icon.

His friends and family gathered to bid farewell to him at a ceremony at Abyssinian Baptist Church, reports the New York Daily News.

At the service, singer Roberta Flack performed a rendition of her hit, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, as she hugged Ashford’s tearful widow Simpson.

Reverend Calvin Butts was given a standing ovation by the hundreds of mourners after he told them, “One of the strongest people I’ve seen in a long time is Valerie Simpson.”

Simpson later took to the piano, saying, “I’ve got a lot to say about a great man. He was my soul mate. He was the man of my life. I’m going to miss my honey… I know he’s looking down on us. I know he’s happy.”

Actresses Phylicia Rashad and S. Epatha Merkerson also paid tribute by reciting Maya Angelou’s When Great Trees Fall.