The ASCAP Foundation Honors Valerie Simpson


The ASCAP Foundation honored R&B and pop icon Valerie Simpson with its George M. Cohan Friars Foundation Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner with The ASCAP Foundation Masters Award at the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Honors tonight. The ceremony took place at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street, in New York City. The ASCAP Foundation 2018 scholarship recipients were also recognized in an evening brimming with talent and inspiration.

Simpson was presented with The ASCAP Foundation George M. Cohan Friars Foundation Award by The ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams for her multifaceted career and success in a variety of roles. Together with her husband, Nick Ashford, Simpson wrote classic songs including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need” and “Reach Out and Touch.” A 2002 inductee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Simpson has played a significant role in fostering and encouraging young songwriters by establishing the “Reach Out and Touch” Award with The ASCAP Foundation to assist promising young talent and to honor her late husband’s legacy. Simpson has appeared on Broadway and also serves on The ASCAP Foundation Board. Previous recipients include Joel Grey, Rupert Holmes and Martin Charnin.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner accepted The ASCAP Foundation Masters Award, presented to her by The ASCAP Foundation Board member and composer Alex Shapiro. Wagner’s works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She has been recognized with a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from ASCAP. She currently serves as chair of composition on the faculty of The Juilliard School of Music and gives master classes at esteemed institutions including Harvard, Yale, Eastman and UC Davis.

Other top winners included composer-lyricist-book writer Joe Iconis, who received the Richard Rodgers New Horizon Award in honor of his achievements in musical theatre composition from Tony, Oscar and Grammy-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz. Iconis has authored musicals such as Broadway Bounty Hunter, Bloodsong of Love, The Black, ReWrite, Theaterworks USA’s The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks and We the People. His newest musical, Be More Chill, is based on the young adult novel by Ned Vizzini and is set to premiere on Broadway in 2019. The cast recording has been streamed over 150 million times to date.

The ceremony also featured performances in various musical genres including Melinda Wagner’s “Noggin” by pianist Geoffrey Burleson; “Michael in the Bathroom,” from Iconis’s Be More Chill, performed by cast member George Salazar; “Um só” solo on berimbau from Morton Gould Young Composer Award recipient Alex C. Lamb; “Crosswinds” from Desmond Child Anthem Award winner Kári Egilsson; “It’s Alright,” on acoustic guitar from Leon Brettler Award winner Madeleine Anderson; and “In Between” from “Reach Out and Touch” Award winner Ryan Shaw. Valerie Simpson delivered the final performance of the evening solo on piano.

A complete list of 2018 ASCAP Foundation Scholarship and Awards recipients can be found at

About The ASCAP Foundation
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education, talent development and humanitarian programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States.

Learn more and stay in touch at, on Twitter @ascapfoundation, and on Facebook.



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