The heartthrob with a big heart

He is not just a musician and an actor, Nathan Hartono is also a passionate philanthropist.

Andy Yong

Published: 18 December 2015, 8:35 PM

Nathan Hartono is known for many things – being a jazz singer, his boyish good looks and his role as Coki on HBO series Halfworlds.

What most people do not know is that the Singaporean heartthrob is also passionate about charity work. He has helped to raise over $17,000 for Very Special Arts (VSA) Singapore, and has also performed at non-profit concerts for Singapore Red Cross, the Yellow Ribbon Project and the Singapore Cancer Society.

Explaining why not many know about his charity work, he said: “For me, charity work has never been a chore, or something to uphold to a high standard and boast about. If you have the time and resources, just help out anyway you can.”

The singer-songwriter, who shot to fame since winning the Teenage Icon singing competition in 2005, is currently in the middle of a campaign with Club Rainbow, a charity for chronically ill children.

“It’s a Christmas themed campaign to remind people of the spirit of giving during the season of giving,” said the 24-year-old Singaporean, who has seven fan clubs on Twitter and 35,000 collective followers on Twitter and Instagram.


"We gathered beneficiaries who are interested in music and music production, because I wanted them to experience an extremely educational environment," Nathan said of the opportunity he would have "killed for" when he was younger.

Why did he choose to work with VSA and Club Rainbow, both children-related charities?

He replied: “I didn’t want to link up with a charity where I will be useless, one where I can’t engage with the beneficiaries, one where I am just a face. I think I am fairly good with kids so I want to connect with them and understand what they are going through.”

When it comes to charity, Nathan has a “Why wouldn’t you” attitude.

Of all the children he has met and all the hearts he has touched, Anastasia, a Club Rainbow beneficiary, has left the biggest impression on him. The 11-year-old suffers from complete deafness in her right ear and a heart murmur.

Despite that, she has been playing the drums for a year.

Nathan spoke enthusiastically about his admiration for Anastasia: “I just found those two deficiencies to be probably the two biggest hindrances to rhythm. She doesn’t even see it as a something to overcome, she just figured out how to drum because she wanted to and that’s pretty amazing.”

Anastasia drumming in Nathan’s cover for ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’.

The Anglo-Chinese junior college (ACJC) graduate humbly admits that he was not always the kind soul he is today. He spoke of how his first experience with the less fortunate encouraged him to be a more charitable person.

“When I was 17, I was in the ACJC choir and we would go Christmas carolling at hospitals and old folk’s homes. Communicating with them one to one really struck a chord with me and I saw how half an hour of my day made the difference of a lifetime to somebody else,” reminisced Nathan.

“I don’t think there is anything to lose, but there is everything to gain,” said Nathan on charity work.

On top of the Christmas campaign for Club Rainbow, the Berklee College of Music student, who is pursuing a degree in music production and engineering, is trying to focus on his music too.

Nathan, who is currently based in Singapore, is working on a fourth album that will be released early in 2016. Fans can expect a completely different sound from his 2012 EP, though the album will retain elements of jazz and his usual “singer-songwriter stuff”.

Nathan’s campaign with Club Rainbow ends on Dec 31. Make a difference here.

You may like these