Bowie State University awarded Ashford and Simpson, the legendary soul singing group, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree May 17.
The degree was conferred at the school’s commencement ceremony in College Park and comes after Bowie State recently established a scholarship named for the late Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, the Ashford and Simpson Endowed Music Scholarship Fund as a platform for aspiring artists.
Following commencement, Simpson was honored at celebrity concert at Bowie’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. Performers included singers Freddie Jackson, Baltimore’s Mayas Leak, Jeff Majors and Jean Carn and the Clarence Knight Orchestra.
University President Mickey L. Burnim presented Simpson with the honorary degree.
The singer, who now performs as a solo act, talked with the AFRO about life after the death of her husband:
AFRO: How is life the passing of your husband?
Valerie Simpson: It’s like a newborn baby finding its way. I’ve already experienced one lifetime and I’m walking into a new one. Nothing is the same. I’m so used to singing a duet and you know waiting for somebody to come in, but there is nobody to come in! I’ve got to keep on singing!
Aunni: Do you enjoy performing solo?
Simpson: It tickles me and it’s a learning experience. I have new goose bumps on my arms, whereas before I was never nervous. But I’m not afraid. You know, I think that if God has a purpose for you then you come equipped, and ready and able to do it.
Aunni: Why Bowie State?
Simpson: Because that means that it is a new opportunity. And what I did [performing], you know, was hard to do. But we want to make it a little bit easier. We want to give a little bit more of a cushion. And now that they have that foundation from Bowie. We want to send them into the world stronger and better and more able to fly than we were!