Valerie Simpson swayed back and forth in her seat and smiled during the memorial for her husband and singing partner, Nickolas Ashford. Wearing a gray dress specially made for her for the service, she had no problem getting up from her seat and singing along with people honoring her late husband of 36 years-she even played the piano in the background for those who offered reflections.
Mourners packed Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on Monday night to bid farewell to Ashford, who died from throat cancer last week at the age of 70. Family, friends, entertainment industry figures and fans came by the thousands to the church to pay their respects. The church became so packed that mourners were sitting on windowsills in the balcony.