The Harlem School of the Arts Annual Benefit Gala
This evening, the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) hosted its Annual Benefit Gala at The Plaza Hotel. The evening was co-hosted by two-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning TV host Tamron Hall and HSA President James C. Horton.
Honorees included actress, singer, director and Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University Phylicia Rashad; Former President of Spelman College & Former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell who was presented with the award by her son, Sekou Campbell; and The Legacy of Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole accepted by Timolin Cole-Augustus & Casey Cole-Ray and presented by infamous music producer Clive Davis.
During the program, Timolin and Casey announced that the Natalie King Cole Foundation would match donations raised during the program up to $10,000, which was achieved long before the evening ended.
Chairman of the Harlem School of the Arts Board Charles J. Hamilton Jr.’s wife of 43-years, Pamela Carlton, surprised him by presenting his Lifetime Achievement Award. He later announced that as he transitions to Chairman Emeritus, he will be replaced by Co-Chairs, Kenneth W. Taber and Lisa Davis.
He ended his acceptance by calling for a moment of silence for HSA advisory board member Harry Belafonte. Additional honorees included American Girl, which received their Corporate Leadership Award and The MetLife Foundation which received their Philanthropic Leadership Award.
Peppered throughout the evening were the most important attendees – the HSA students. The event was opened by three budding entertainers, Jaydon Hairston, Harper Quill and Aimony Erisnor who taught the ‘gala crowd’ how to use QR codes.
HSA student and the youngest Black male to win a Grammy, Russell Walter III was in attendance and received a standing ovation from guests.
Soloist Clara Ojeh performed “Naughty” from Matilda The Musical, while a short documentary about the visual arts offerings at HSA created and directed by Media & Design student Alexis Carson was showcased.
A surprise performance closed out the evening as HSA Dance students took the stage to honor Phylicia Rashad’s legacy and cultural impact with a moving composition to “All Good Things Will Be Added Unto You” with audio from Phylicia Rashad & Hillman College from The Cosby Show. Rashad was moved to tears.
Guests in attendance included: Yolanda Wyns, Ray Chew, Vivan Chew, Michael Ealy, Ken W. Tabor & Barbara Tabor, Jamie Cygielman, Michael Zarcone, Ezra Ezard, Jose Claxton, and Pamela Carlton, Russell Walter III.
- “Harlem School of the Arts, I owe you everything,” said Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell during her acceptance speech.
- “It is with profound joy that we continue the legacy of the Nat King Cole Foundation, providing access to the next generation,” said Timolin Cole-Augustus in her acceptance speech. ”We thank you to all those who have loved our father and our sister, and those who have continued their legacy. We’re grateful to accept this award on their behalf.”
- “What you pour into them [students], they give back to us,” said Phylicia Rashad during her acceptance speech.