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Teen born without a jaw finds his voice, achieves dream of creating music

Published: Sunday, March 19, 2017 @ 5:59 AM

Headphones on a mixing desk (Photo credit: Image Source / DigitalVision / Getty Images)
Image Source/Getty Images
Headphones on a mixing desk (Photo credit: Image Source / DigitalVision / Getty Images)(Image Source/Getty Images)

A teen born without a jaw is beating the odds again, launching a music career and helping other along the way.

When Isaiah Acosta was born, the odds were stacked against him. He’s now 17 years old and thriving in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Though he’s considered mute and will never have the ability to speak, Isaiah is now launching his music career.

“We knew we had a great story but we didn’t know it was going to explode like it did,” Tarah Acosta, Isaiah’s mother, told KNXV.

Last week, Isaiah’s hip-hop song “Oxygen to Fly” debuted. He partnered with Arizona rapper Trap House and a short documentary featuring his story was shared online. In just a few days, his story racked up more than 4 million views.

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“I don’t even think Isaiah thought this was possible. You know he is mute and we and a lot of people have told us they haven’t seen anything like this,” said Tarah.

You can listen to Isaiah’s song by clicking here. All proceeds from the song will go to the Children’s Miracle Network.

>> Watch a video about Isaiah here

He may not be able to talk ...

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, March 9, 2017

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Why this Broadway star is coming to town and how you can see her

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 10:12 AM

Three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker will sing the Golden Age of Broadway and more Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Loft Theatre. She will also participate in a master class and interview Friday, Feb. 23 in the Festival Playhouse of the Creative Arts Center at Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY LAURA MARIE DUNCAN
Three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker will sing the Golden Age of Broadway and more Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Loft Theatre. She will also participate in a master class and interview Friday, Feb. 23 in the Festival Playhouse of the Creative Arts Center at Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY LAURA MARIE DUNCAN

Three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker, one of Broadway’s signature sopranos, sings the Golden Age of Broadway and more Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Loft Theatre as a benefit fundraiser for the Human Race Theatre Company.

Sponsored by the Musical Theatre Initiative at Wright State University, the Race’s residency partner, the eclectic concert interweaves classics of the American Songbook written by Golden Age legends such as Jerome Kern, Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Rodgers and Hammerstein with modern tunes from today’s songwriters including Joseph Thalken, Luker’s accompanist and composer of the musicals “Was” and “Harold and Maude” which both received Midwest premieres at the Human Race.

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“We are thrilled to continue our tradition of bringing the ‘Best of Broadway’ to Dayton,” said Human Race Artistic Director Kevin Moore. “Rebecca Luker has thrilled me numerous times on the Broadway stage, and what an honor to have her perform for our Loft audiences. This concert/fundraiser helps to support a variety of special projects at the Human Race, making education and community engagement possible. Plus, we are able to collaborate with Joe Deer at Wright State University in providing a master class with Ms. Luker and Mr. Thalken for the musical theatre students.”

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“The concert will be a wonderful mix of old and new songs that’ll make you laugh and make you cry,” said Luker, 56, who grew up admiring musical theatre while raised singing church hymns in her native Birmingham, Alabama. “I’ve always believed one of my purposes in life is to sing and interpret this kind of music. It just speaks to me. The level of writing astounds me. The Golden Age really produced brilliant music from Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and many others. But it’s also true that contemporary composers, such as my accompanist Joe Thalken, are carrying on the tradition, the sensibility, of Kern, Gershwin, Cole Porter and others. They’re bringing the style of classical and contemporary together in their own special way and it’s so exciting. But I hope the audience comes away from the concert having felt as if they’ve had a journey through our wonderful musical theatre history from way back when until today. I want the audience to have a completely satisfying experience.”

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In addition to receiving Tony nominations for her luminous portrayals of Magnolia in “Show Boat,” Marian Paroo in “The Music Man” and Winifred Banks in “Mary Poppins,” Luker says she is proud to have been given opportunities that notably stretched and challenged her beyond the expected. In particular, she ranks her portrayals of Claudia in “Nine,” the Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella” and Helen Bechdel in “Fun Home” among her fondest and most challenging performances.

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“I often enjoy bringing a bit of myself to any role that I do,” she remarked. “When I did ‘Nine,’ I had to speak Italian and be someone I’m completely not, which I love doing. When I was the Fairy Godmother in ‘Cinderella,’ I was moving into the point of my career when I was doing more character roles and that was so much fun. ‘Fun Home’ was a great experience because it was a contemporary musical, which I rarely do, and I loved the score as well. I had the time of my life doing ‘Fun Home.’ But there are still roles I haven’t done that I would love to do. I still haven’t played Anna in ‘The King and I’ and I would love to do plays, particularly Shakespeare. It would also be great to do operas or operettas.”

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Luker, who resides in New York City with her husband, six-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein, is specifically looking forward to spending time encouraging and advising WSU’s musical theatre students. She hopes her words of wisdom will resonate.

“It’s important to have as many acting experiences as you can in order for you to decide which direction you ultimately want to go,” she said. “Only you know what you can do with your talent. I’ll also help the students communicate a song. It sounds easy but it’s hard. It’s important to make songs personal, to believe it with all your heart. And in doing so, the audience is going to believe it with all their heart. It’s always important to let your authentic self shine through.”

Want to go?

WHAT: Rebecca Luker at Wright State

WHERE: Festival Playhouse of WSU’s Creative Arts Center, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Fairborn

WHEN: 10-11:30 a.m. Friday (master class with students); 1-2:30 p.m. Friday (interview with Joe Deer)

FYI: Both sessions are free and open to the public.

WHAT: “Broadway’s Rebecca Luker: One Night Only”

WHERE: Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St., Dayton

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

COST: $65 (regular admission) and $140 (VIP level). VIP level tickets include a pre-show event with heavy hors d/oeuvres, wine and cheese, reserved premium seating, and a post-show reception with Luker. The price includes a $35 tax deductible gift to the Human Race.

TICKETS: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit or

FYI: More information about Luker, including performance clips, can be found at

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Last chance to see this Art Nouveau exhibit in Dayton

Published: Saturday, December 30, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Alphonse Mucha was a Czechoslovakian artist and a leader of the Art Nouveau movement.

Courtesy of Dayton Art Institute and the Dhawan Collection.
Alphonse Mucha was a Czechoslovakian artist and a leader of the Art Nouveau movement. Courtesy of Dayton Art Institute and the Dhawan Collection.(HANDOUT)

It’s the perfect weekend for indoor fun.

It’s also your last chance to see this special exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute.

The exhibit “Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau” will be on view through Dec. 31. This is the only Midwest stop for the exhibit.

Drawn from one of the finest private collections of Mucha’s work in the United States, this exhibition features 75 works by the celebrated Czech master, whose varied, expressive, and seductive imagery helped form and later shape the aesthetics of French Art Nouveau at the turn of the 20th century.

A traveling exhibit, “Art Nouveau designs of Alphonse Mucha,” will come to the Dayton Art Institute in September. Photo credit: Alphonse Mucha, JOB.(Staff Writer)

We asked Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth, the Dayton Art Institute’s Kettering Assistant Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, to tell us more about an artist she’s admired since childhood.

Q: Who was Alphonse Mucha?

Siegwarth: Mucha was a Czechoslovakian artist who lived from 1860 to 1939 and became known for a distinctive style that established him as a leader of the Art Nouveau movement. His work ranged from paintings, posters and advertisements to jewelry, carpet and wallpaper designs. Mucha’s works frequently featured beautiful young women in flowing, vaguely Neoclassical-looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads. In contrast with contemporary poster-makers he used pale pastel colors.

Q: What is Art Nouveau and how does one recognize it?

Siegwarth: Art Nouveau was a visual, decorative and architectural art style popular from the late 1880’s until the First World War when the Art Deco style gained popularity. Art Nouveau can be recognized by its highly-stylized forms inspired by natural elements. You’ll see a lot of long, curving plants and other sinuous line details. And within the visual arts, you will note beautiful women, or femme fatales, with long, flowing hair and seductive glances — a trademark style of Alphonse Mucha.

Mucha was also interested in spiritualism and Masonic philosophy. He later became a Grand Master of the Freemasons of Czechoslovakia which also influenced many of his later designs. At that point in his career he was trying to elevate the meaning and influence of his designs — no longer seductive women, but figures who represented virtrues such as “truth” and “peace.” There are other symbols within designs that are associated with the Freemasons. Some of the works towards the end of our exhibit demonstrate this change.

Q: What materials did Mucha use in his art?

Siegwarth: As a principal designer for advertisements as well as book and journal illustrations, Mucha made a significant number of lithographs. There were several advancements in printing and color lithography techniques during his time, making it an exciting medium for experimentation.

Mucha’s lithographs reflect the rich texture of modern life in Paris at the turn of the century — this is the opulent Belle Époque and fin-de-siècle. His subject matter ranges from biscuits, perfumes and liqueurs to exhibitions and expositions locations. He also did publicity for leading theatrical celebrities of the era.

Mucho’s advertisement presented actress Sarah Bernhardt in her feature role and was wildly popular. CREDIT: Alphonse Mucha, color lithograph on paper mounted on linen, 1895. Courtesy of Dayton Art Institute and the Dhawan Collection.(Staff Writer)

Q: How is he best known?

Siegwarth: Mucha is perhaps best known for the “Slav Epic,” his series of twenty monumental paintings depicting Czech and Slovak history. He was an ardent supporter of Czech independence and gifted this series of paintings in 1928 to Czechoslovakia on the 10th anniversary of its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also, in 1919, he designed the first Czech bank notes, which will be on view in the exhibition.

Q: What would you hope visitors take away from the exhibition?

Siegwarth: With any exhibition, I hope visitors are able to see how the artworks on view were influenced by the time and events surrounding its creation, but also how the visual arts in turn influenced the world around it.

This exhibition is a great example of that. Mucha created singular works that shaped an artistic style, changed advertising campaign strategies, while also showed audiences today the opulent world of turn of the twentieth century Paris.

But most importantly, I wish for visitors to have fun!


What: “Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau, ” an exhibit featuring 75 works from the Dhawan Collection  

When: Through Dec. 31, 2017 

Where: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton 

Admission: $14 adults; $11 seniors (60+), students (18+ w/ID), active military and groups (10 or more); $6 youth (ages 7-17); and free for children (ages 6 & under) and members.


  • Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
  • Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. 
  • Fridays/Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
  • Sundays, Noon - 5:00 p.m. (including Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve) 
  • Closed Mondays & Tuesdays

More info: Visit Use the hashtag #MuchaDAI to join the conversation on social media.

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Local girl performing in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Lily Nevers of Springboro will be singing and dancing on Thanksgiving Day in the 91st annual Parade.

An 11-year-old Springboro girl should be singing and dancing in front of the Macy’s department store in New York City on Thursday during the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Lily Nevers said Tuesday during a break from rehearsals in New York for a performance of Irving Berlin’s “This Is A Great Country” during the iconic parade, typically seen by 3.5 million live spectators and more than 50 million viewers.

MORE: Thanksgiving Day forecast

Nevers, a 6th grader at Incarnation Catholic School in Centerville, is one of 128 kids from 104 cities picked by the Camp Broadway theatre-arts enrichment company for this year’s production.

“I’m very excited for the parade,” she said. “I’m so happy to be part of it this year.”

MORE: Restaurants open on Thanksgiving

The Camp Broadway cast is made up of children 9 to 16 years old, representing immediate family members of active duty military personnel, veterans, reservists, wounded warriors and fallen heroes from all branches of United States Armed Forces. They are to march with the parade and perform on Herald Square in front of the store.

Lily is the daughter of David and Lesley Nevers. David Nevers retired little more than a year ago after 21 ½ years in the United States Marine Corps.

Lily has performed at the Town Hall Theatre in Centerville and aspires to a career on Broadway. The family submitted a video audition of her singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” doing the dance moves in the Thanksgiving Day show and a head shot.

The family learned early last month she had been selected.

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“I was just over the moon for her,” Lesley Nevers said. “It’s her dream. She’s been walking on air.”

Mother and daughter also managed to find time to shop along Time Square and catch a Broadway show.

“It’s really important to live in the moment,” Lily added. “I’m really honored to have this opportunity.”

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Basquiat painting breaks record at Sotheby’s auction

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 2:09 AM

Basquiat Painting Breaks Record At Sotheby’s Auction

A 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for a record $110.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction of contemporary art Thursday night.

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Sotheby’s said the sale of “Untitled” was an auction record for the artist. It also set a record price for an American artist at auction, USA Today reported. Sotheby’s said it was the highest paid price at auction for any artwork created after 1980.

The painting, which has a graffiti-like look, shows a face in the shape of a skull.

Five of Basquiat’s works sold Thursday night, pulling in $129.3 million total, Sotheby’s said.

“Untitled” was bought by Japanese collector and e-commerce entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa after a 10-minute bidding war.

“When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art,” said Maezawa, who said he plans to display the painting in his museum in Chiba, Japan. 

“Untitled” was an unknown work before Sotheby’s unveiled it weeks ago, USA Today reported.

The previous auction record for a Basquiat work was set last May when “Untitled, 1982” was bought by Maezawa for $57.3 million, The Associated Press reported.

Basquiat died of a drug overdose in 1988 at age 27.

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