By Dale King
The Pineapple Contributing Writer
BOCA RATON, FL – A popular Michel Legrand song asks, “How do you keep the music playing?” The twin daughters of a legendary music icon have found the answer to the query that’s been posed by dozens of vocalists.
Timolin and Casey Cole of Boca Raton, daughters of music maker extraordinaire Nat “King” Cole, launched Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc. in 2008 to honor the legacy, music and life of their father after learning that budget cuts in South Florida public schools have reduced arts program offerings.
In seven years, the twins have raised more than $750,000 to keep the music and culture playing for children with “the greatest need and fewest resources” in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
They raise cash by sponsoring concerts featuring top-notch singers like Mary Wilson, from the original Supremes, the Temptations and even their older sister, Natalie Cole. “That’s our passion,” said Casey, and Timolin added, “We thought it would be fitting” as a tribute to their dad.
This year, the keynote fundraiser will be held April 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek, when 10-time Grammy Award winning singer/guitarist George Benson will take center stage at the fourth annual Generations Concert.
The musical agenda features an opening called “Generations of Talent,” where young people helped by the program perform. Then Benson, who two years ago recorded “Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole” featuring arrangements by Nelson Riddle and Randy Waldman, will present his own musical portfolio.
The Cole sisters said Generation Hope supplies instruments, underwrites after-care programs, supports mentoring efforts, funds instruction and collects used instruments and refurbishes them for kids in danger of losing touch with music education. Money from the 2014 Generations Concert gave the twins the oomph to expand the reach of their program to fund the needs of the Florida Youth Orchestra, New World Symphony, Art Culture Center of Hollywood, Fla. and Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls in New York.
Palm Beach schools and organizations assisted by Generations include Boca Raton Middle School, Boca Raton Community High School, Lynn University Conservatory of Music and Plumosa Elementary School for the Arts.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Timolin, who noted the sisters want to take the program national. That expansion has already begun with Generation’s decision to join forces with the VH1 Save the Music program. That effort was launched two years ago with Ambassador Sara Bareilles (“Brave”) in response to the growing need for highquality, functional pianos in public schools and to provide students with a safe, inclusive community to be outstanding through the arts.
“Our family history is one of musical excellence and charitable giving,” said Timolin. “Our father was a trailblazer in the music industry and will live forever through his style, grace and unforgettable music. Our mother Maria, also an entertainer, sang with Duke Ellington and was known for supporting multiple causes throughout her life. By giving students the opportunity to enhance their musical talents and abilities, our family’s legacy lives on.”
“We believe that every child should be exposed to music education,” noted Casey. “Research has proven that access to a quality music education engages students in the classroom and increases graduation rates; improves early cognitive development, math and reading skills; enhances learning in other core subjects; develops critical thinking and leadership skills and fosters self-esteem and the ability to work cooperatively in teams.”
Not only do the Cole sisters provide instruments, they visit schools where students have learned about their father’s career and musical prowess. “They look forward to it,” the twins said. “It’s a real treat. We enjoy talking to them.”
A percentage of proceeds will also continue to underwrite the Nat and Maria Cole Memorial Scholarship given to a deserving high school senior who has chosen to major in music in college as well as the Nat King Cole Generation Hope Summer Strings program at Lynn University which provides intensive string instruction for up to 100 children with the greatest need and fewest resources each year.
To purchase benefit concert tickets visit natkingcolegenhope.org/concert or ticketmaster.com. For more information on Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc., call 561-213-8209 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Generations concert is sponsored by NCCI, Florida Power & Light, Florida Public Utilities, West Boca Medical Center and CBM of America. Media sponsors include Life Publications and LivingFLA.com. Partners include Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Boca Raton Marriott at Boca Center, Dawn of Design Graphic Studio and Kaye Communications, Inc.
Schools and organizations that have received funding from the Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc. include:
PALM BEACH COUNTY:
Boca Raton Middle School
Boca Raton Community High School
Belvedere Elementary School
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School
KEC/Canal Point Elementary School
Cholee Lake Elementary School
Forest Hill Community High School
Heritage Elementary School
Jaega Middle School
Lynn University Conservatory of Music
North Palm Beach Elementary School
Palmetto Elementary School
Plumosa Elementary School of the Arts
Summer Strings at Lynn University
The Nat and Maria Cole Memorial Scholarship
Roosevelt Community Middle School
U. B. Kinsey Elementary School
Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County
Arts and Culture Center of Ft Lauderdale
Dillard High School
Florida Youth Orchestra
Piper High School
American Senior High School
Guitars Over Guns Operation
Heritage Elementary School
New World School of the Performing Arts
New World Symphony Northwest
Miami Senior High School
Palmetto Elementary School
Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls