Archive for January, 2009

Ashford & Simpson

Date of Interview: 01/30/2009

© 2009 Clayton Perry

Over the past four decades, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson have penned hits for some of the music industry’s foremost stars, including Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Chaka Khan.  And more recently, their work has inspired a generation of newer, younger artists, who were raised on their timeless hits: Amy Winehouse on “Tears Dry on Their Own” (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”), 50 Cent on “Best Friend” (“Silly Wasn’t I”) and Whitney Houston on the ubiquitous “I’m Every Woman.”

Although Nickolas and Valerie are best known for being a successful songwriting and production duo, they developed quite a reputation as performers, too.  After a three-week stand in New York at Feinstein’s at the Regency, Ashford & Simpson decided to tape their live show and chronicle the experience—dubbing it as The Real Thing.  Living up to its name, the concert does not disappoint.

Upon review of The Real Thing, Ashford & Simpson managed to squeeze some time out of their busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Barack Obama, “Gimme Something Real” and the arduous task of writing the score for E. Lynn Harris’ Invisible Life.



Darius Rucker

Date of Interview: 01/29/2009

© 2009 Clayton Perry

As the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius Rucker has spent the past 20 years realizing one of life’s most valuable lessons: you have to “live and learn,” so that you can “learn how to live.”  Consequently, his country debut, Learn to Live, is a cathartic experiment—and a musical foray that few rock stars are willing to take.

Fifteen years after the release of Cracked Rear View, Rucker’s positive reception on country radio may come as a surprise.  Even so, the evolution of Rucker’s career yields solid proof that music is an art form that has the power to transcend cultural lines.  With the chart-topping success of “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” Rucker proved that an artist can connect with any audience, so long as their music is genuine and sincere.

Upon review of Learn to Live, Darius Rucker managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Charley Pride, Back to Then and his Nashville experience.


Deborah Cox

Date of Interview: 01/02/2009

© 2009 Clayton Perry

Between 1998 and 2006, Deborah Cox held the record for the longest-running #1 single on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart: “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here.”  Over the course of 14 weeks, audiences across the globe were captivated by her magnificent vocals, which cemented the Canadian singer into R&B history.  The strength of Cox’s R&B catalog resonated with dance audiences as well, and her repertoire of hits would eventually be catapulted to the top of Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart.  To date, she has garnered nine #1 singles and firmly established herself as a key pioneer in contemporary dance music.

In 2008, Deborah Cox and her husband, Lascelles Stephens created the Deco Recording Group, an independent label that is distributed through Image Entertainment.  The venture’s first release was The Promise, Cox’s fifth studio album, which was released on November 11, 2008. Upon review of The Promise, Deborah Cox managed to squeeze some time out of her busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Clive Davis, The Promise and her definition of love.