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Teen Born Without Jaw Finds His Voice

What is a voice? Certainly, we can say a voice is the actual sound of one’s vocalization, the tone and timbre. By extension, then, we often consider one’s voice to the be the aural equivalent of their personality. There’s a reason why James Earl Jones was both the menacing voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, but also the reassuring and strong voice of Mufasa in The Lion KIng -- the bassy but effortlessly smooth boom of his voice exudes authority, mastery, and inequivocabile command, whether its leading a phalanx of Imperial Stormtroopers or teaching a precocious lion cub what it means to be a good, true king. Therefore, perhaps the best definition of a voice is when we use the word to describe unique perspective, authorship and the ineffable transmutation of self into communication. It’s this kind of voice that doesn’t need a sound at all to draw attention to its power, and that’s what makes 17-year-old Isaiah Acosta’s voice so powerful and poignant--born with a rare medical condition leaving him without a jaw, Isaiah quite literally has never had an audible voice.

Being told that he’d never speak was all the inspiration Isaiah needed to amplify what he had to say, and what drew him to finding his voice in one of the globe’s most expressive art cultures, hip hop. Hip hop has long been a bastion of speaking out for those who have been marginalized or silenced by societal separation, and while Isaiah turned to hip hop as a way to be heard through songwriting, he still needed to find someone to actually make the sounds that signify the words he writes. That’s where Trap House came in. Trap House is a local Phoenix rapper who met Isaiah and was inspired to help bring sound to Isaiah’s words. In his mind, hip hop “allows you to be the voice for the voiceless,” so getting to literally be the voice for someone with so much positivity and perspective was a natural calling for Trap House. It’s led them to collaborate as artists, poets, and musicians together on several songs and projects that have helped them both express themselves and make their voices heard.

“It’s a challenge to be someone else’s voice, but Isaiah has so many things he wants to say, we make it work.” For both Trap House and Isaiah, art, expression, and hip hop are the way to say what they need, but also a means to lift others up. Isaiah’s lyrical message is one of defiance and hope,of beating the odds and living a life everyone had told him would be impossible. He’s even working on a song about bullying after experiencing online bullying himself, not to take down his attackers, but to bring support and solidarity to those who have experienced the same. It’s a hard thing to find a powerful voice, and harder still to use that power in the service of others -- for Isaiah and Trap House, though, it’s part of a rhythm and flow that needs to be heard.


Phoenix, AZ, USA

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