You won’t find Valerie Simpson’s name alongside Carole King, Laura Nyro, and Joni Mitchell on the list of the singer-songwriters who brought women’s voices to center stage in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but you should. Part of the problem is that Simpson is irrevocably, and properly, linked with singing and songwriting partner Nick Ashford, her husband until his death in 2011. There’s a deeper issue, however—one that involves the paradoxical invisibility of African American women in the music world. To judge by the vast majority of pop punditry, a black woman’s job is to sing like an angel and look good. Without question, Valerie Simpson does both. But, like Aretha Franklin, her multifaceted brilliance touched every stage of the music-making process: singing, songwriting, piano playing, and record production.