Students And Stars Shine At The Harlem School Of The Arts Annual Gala 2023

May 2, 2023

Honorees included actress, singer, director, and Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University Phylicia Rashad.

Including former President of Spelman College and 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 Trailblazers Award honoring the Cole Family Legacy accepted by Timolin Cole-Augustus and Casey Cole-Ray and were introduced by famous music producer Clive Davis.

During the program, Timolin and Casey announced that the Natalie 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 its Corporate Leadership Award, and The MetLife Foundation which received its 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 and Barbara Tabor, Jamie Cygielman, Michael Zarcone, Ezra Ezard, Jose Claxton, 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 Cole Family Legacy through Nat Cole Generation Hope with the support of The Natalie Cole Foundation by providing access to music education to children in need.” said Timolin Cole-Augustus in her acceptance speech. “We thank you all that are here who have loved our father and sister all these years and helped us continue their legacy. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are grateful and humbled for this incredible honor.” 

“What you pour into them [students], they give back to us,” said Phylicia Rashad during her acceptance speech.

Looks like fun was had by all. 

Photo Credit: 1-7) Harlem School of the Arts/Rob Kim for Getty Images.

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