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Piper is a singer songwriter from the Hunter Valley, and for lovers of Australian Idol, she made it to the Top 24 last year!

At only 19, Piper has already experienced huge success, and this is all despite being born with a cleft palate.  We had the absolutely pleasure of meeting with Piper and her gorgeous parents Michelle and Joal recently to chat about the challenges they faced when Piper was born with a cleft palate and how they wanted to give back to others.

Piper talks below about her experience being born with a cleft palate and her passion to help other young people achieve their potential in life.

  • Can you tell us a bit about the condition that you were born with?

I was born with a cleft palate and Pierre Robin Sequence. This meant that while I had no soft palate (basically the roof of my mouth), my jaw was also underdeveloped, and it caused my tongue to sit back quite far. I underwent several major operations from the age of 1.5yrs, including one set of grommets. Back in 2021, I had my most recent surgery to tend to a small issue in my palate from growing so much and singing regularly which healed in 2 months; I have been singing strongly and living a healthier life ever since!

  • What was the impact of being born with a cleft, on both yourself and your family?

I was so young being operated on, a lot of my memories are inflicted with feelings of fear…Unfortunately that is what I remember most. I was so lucky to have my parents with me every step of the way though, and their positivity is something that not only helped me through my surgeries but to this day helps me have a better outlook on life. I went through many tests, operations and procedures where I had to fast – and they fasted with me to make me feel less isolated during the process!

  • What was your motivation to get involved with Operation Smile Australia

I believe it is important to raise awareness of craniofacial and cleft conditions to the general public, as they are more common than we realise. It’s vital to educate not only people that aren’t aware, but young families that are unsure about what the future holds for their child with conditions like these. For that purpose, I’m proud to share my own journey in an encouraging and hard-working environment like OSA provides. This is an opportunity for me to show young children and their families that they are able to live a normal life, and that their only limits are the bounds of their own imagination.

  • Who or what inspired you to become a musician?

I have always been surrounded by music. Before I could speak properly, I would hum and sing certain sounds. Growing up I did some singing recitals and choir until Grade 2, but when I was 10 years old, I was taken to a Foo Fighters Concert in Sydney and was blown away by the sounds, energy and presence. At one point during the night, Dave Grohl yelled out “Kids, get into the shed and make your own noise!” And I was sold! From that point on I wanted to pick up a guitar and sing my heart out at any point in time. Luckily, I was able to borrow my dad’s guitar that he played back in his teen years and I learnt three chords and immediately felt unstoppable, haha! Looking back – that was definitely the pinnacle moment that inspired me to be my own musician.

  • What impact do you hope you will have on young children born with craniofacial conditions?

I aim to bring about the feelings of hope, positivity and happiness to young children born with craniofacial conditions. After many surgeries and speech therapy, I am proud to show these families that there is definitely a much brighter side at the end of the tunnel; and that these kids are able to live any life they choose! I was born with a condition that stopped me from eating correctly until I was 18 months old, and now I use my voice not only every day to speak clearly, but also to project, pronounce and sing any song that my heart desires. The power of the human body is magnificent, and with positivity on your side, I know from my own experiences that nothing is impossible!