Corky Hale Stoller

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Over our 25-year history, artworxLA has acquired support from government officials, foundations, creative career professionals and social philanthropists. These contributors have expanded our programs connecting us to teens in communities that need us the most. From our lengthy list sponsors, two stand out for their sustained efforts in supporting our programs along our 25-year history. 

Mike and Corky Hale Stoller have been leading advocates for music and social reform throughout their entire lives. As a musician, Corky Hale Stoller's lengthy career included being a harpist for Barbara Streisand and Tony Bennett and it also includes playing piano accompanist for Billie Holiday. Mike Stoller's credentials comprise being a co-composer to R&B and jazz hits recorded by Elvis Presley, Peggy Lee and many other high-profile talents. Starting their own foundation in 1997, The Mike and Corky Hale Stoller Foundation has been a staunch advocate for nonprofits that cultivate the artistic talents in youth. It has also been a driving force with its support of organizations connected to social or political initiatives. 

For 20 years, Mike and Corky Hale Stoller have extended their philanthropic endeavors to support artworxLA. Eager to stay connected to our programs, Corky Hale Stoller joined our artworxLA Board of Directors and has consistently participated in donating musical equipment to our students while providing major gifts to our Annual Evening of Art and Annual Fund. She has also hosted dinners and lunches with artworxLA teens to share her life experiences while making herself aware of the issues faced by them.

After our 25th Annual Evening of Art, we took a moment to meet with Corky to recap and reflect her connection to our programs. Below is a snippet of her interview.

How was I introduced to artworxLA? I was introduced to artworxLA through Barbara Bain the actress. She lived nearby me and asked me to come and meet this young lady that works with students who were being thrown out of school. I thought to myself that this sounds interesting so I made my way over. I met this young lady and of course, you know this lady (Cynthia Campoy Brophy) is unbelievable. I heard her speak. I thought to myself and I said, "That it! I want to support!" That was at least 20 years ago. I was so taken with her. I've been a supporter and a friend for at least 20 years. 

What inspires me to stay connected? Well, I'm involved in everything! <laughs>. Since learning from Cynthia, all I need to know is that kids are being thrown out of school. That's all I need. I just need to hear what's going on to be involved.

From everything I do, I hope to create a difference in the community. In this letter, I wrote that God really smiled down on me. First of all, everyone assumes I'm from Hollywood but I'm from this small town in the Midwest. This place was on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. When I was younger my Mother worked with my father.  My Mothers parents came to the U.S. from Poland poor like most Jews at the time. She grew up in St. Louis poor and had to quit school at 15 to support her younger sister and three brothers because she was so poor. So my mother's whole life was about work. My mom's life was about improving the life of me and my brothers. You've heard the story of a mother saying, "my children are going to have everything". That's what she did for us. She worked and earned it. I'm now in a place where I'm on the other side. I feel the best thing I can do is to give to others.

Between philanthropy and art, I would want my philanthropic career to be my lasting legacy. The fact that they can name a Civil Rights building after us (Mike and Corky Stoller) is very important. God, I've played with every singer that there is. I've played with Streisand, Bennett, Sinatra, James Brown, I mean I've played with everybody. Leonard Feather was the most renowned jazz critique in the country. He died years ago. In one of his books, he called me one of the greatest jazz harpists in the world. I was pretty renowned for being such a great harpist, as a result, I was on so many jazz albums. I mean it's pretty hard to forget me. But, the fact that I and my husband can give all these all the opportunities to student or people that need it the most. To me, that's more important. That's the legacy I want to leave.