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  • Nina Kennedy

Kimberly Nichole's Patriation Party at Ashford and Simpson's Sugar Bar

Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson

Since 1996, the Sugar Bar has been a hot-spot for hearing new talent, spotting celebrities, and enjoying good food and drink. Since Nick Ashford's passing in 2011, Valerie Simpson has been running the place with tender loving care, providing open-mic evenings when unknown talent can sing with one of the best bands in New York, as well as extravaganzas featuring stars such as Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan.

Last Sunday the star-du-jour was Kimberly Nichole, the "Rock Ballerina," in her farewell performance in New York before her departure (or "Blaxit") to London.

Kimberly Nichole "House of the Rising Sun" Performance

The singing/songwriting team of

Ashford & Simpson has secured its place in history as composers of Motown-era classics like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Found a Cure," and "Solid." Nick Ashford was one of the sweetest men I've ever met, and Valerie is always welcoming when she is holding court at the club, saying to young artists "Welcome home!" as they enjoy plates of collard greens, mac and cheese, and fried chicken.

Kimberly Nichole launched onto the national stage as a contestant on season eight of NBC's "The Voice." Her soulful voice rings out over her white-boy-rock-and-roll band in what becomes a truly unique experience. Last night her rendition of "The House of the Rising Sun" gave me chills, and made April jump out of her seat as if she were in church - the Southern Black Baptist Church, that is! At one point in the show (during the song "Soon"), Kimberly went through the audience with her microphone giving young singers a chance to show off their talents. The voices in the room were AMAZING!

After Kimberly took her bows and performed an encore, Valerie Simpson took the mic and encouraged us to send Kimberly off with positive energy and light. I'm sure the Londoners will eat her up!

Safe travels, Kimberly.

We look forward to seeing you back home again real soon!

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