Celebrating Nat King Cole Generation Hope

Mercedes Bograd Levin, Timolin Cole-Augustus, Jackie Weld Drake, Casey Cole-Ray and Martha Bograd

Photo Credit: Jared Siskin

The twin daughters of Nat King Cole, Casey Cole-Ray and Timolin Cole-Augustus, flew north from their homes in Palm Beach to join Jackie Weld Drake at her Upper East Side residence to celebrate the upcoming Harlem School of the Arts Gala which, like the sister’s Nat King Cole Generation Hope and Mrs. Weld Drake’s beloved Casita Maria, advocate arts education for all children.

After warm thanks to their hostess, Casey and Timolin Cole explained, “As the daughters of Nat King Cole and sisters of Natalie Cole, we were bestowed much more than the Cole name — the spirit and passion of two legendary entertainers; a father and daughter who cherished the privilege of bringing harmony to people through their music. Our hearts are full that on May 1, the esteemed Harlem School of the Arts will honor our father and sisters’ legacy in tandem with our dad’s namesake charity. On a special note, today marks the diamond anniversary of our parents, who would be celebrating 60 years. In both their memories, we encourage you to share love with the world today.”

Guests included Jackie Weld Drake‘s sisters Martha Bograd and Mercedes Bograd Levin, Marc Rosen (whose late wife Arleen Dahl knew Nat King Cole from her days at the Copacabana), the new executive director of Casita Maria, Felix Urrutia, the president of Harlem School for the Arts, James C Horton, as well as Steven Aronson, Cricket and Richard Burns, Dr. Karen Burke Goulandris, Susan Cheever, Anne Dexter-Jones, Terry Frankenberger, Patti Kim, Michele Gerber Klein, Helen Little, Yeou-Cheng Ma, Liane Pei, Kathy Sloane, Benny Tabatabi, Ted Taylor, and Christopher Walling.

Christopher Wallan, Ted Taylor, and John Norton

Photo Credit: Jared Siskin

In 2008, Casey and Timolin co-founded Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc., a 501c(3) non-profit, to provide equal access to music instruction, mentorship, and resources for underserved, economically disadvantaged youth in under-resourced communities. The sisters’ organization addresses the predicaments of many in the public education systems whose schools lack funding for enrichment, parents who cannot afford lessons or to buy/rent instruments, and talented music teachers who do so much with so little. Nat King Cole Generation Hope ultimately supports the child, the music instructor, and the school.

For over 50 years, Harlem School of the Arts has built a community centered around a dynamic global curriculum, with a focus on diasporas of prominence in Harlem and Upper Manhattan. Students study and are exposed to music, dance, theater, visual arts, design, and culture guided by world-class faculty and Master teachers. HSA is committed to leveling the playing field by empowering young people from across the multi-cultural and socio-economic spectrum. Of the nearly 5,000 students who participate in HSA programs, more than 85% are African American or Latino and nearly 50% of students taking classes at our facility receive financial assistance.

Casita Maria, headquartered in the South Bronx, was established in 1934 by Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan as the first charitable organization to serve Latinos in New York City. The Sullivan sisters had a primary mission to offer after-school enrichment and recreational activities for the children of newly arrived families from Puerto Rico. Today, Casita Maria remains dedicated to its original mission, delivering services to the mostly Latino youth, and families of the Hunts Point community it serves in the Bronx. Casita Maria now works out of a state-of-the-art facility encompassing performance spaces, an exhibition gallery, dance, and music studios, and more on its Simpson Street campus.

Marc Rosen and Helen Little

Photo Credit: Jared Siskin