Our series of in-depth interviews with and portrait articles on Argentine legends-in-the-making like the members of Tranki Punki, publicist Gaby Sisti, and artist manager Ana Poluyan has already made it clear: the Argentine music industry is filled to the brink with badass female talent and skill. By writing empowering lyrics and breaking the glass ceiling of their profession, Argentine women are known to fight at the frontline of equality empowerment. Recently, we have had the honor to interview another of Argentina’s trailblazing equality ambassadors. In an inspiring conversation with publicist and press manager Maria Nolte, we discuss her work, vision – and how her work in the music industry helped her fight for a cause close to her heart.
Maria Nolte grew up listening to English language rock music, often taking interest in her older brother’s music taste. „I always liked the lyrics of songs, since I was 8 years old”, she says. Her passion for foreign languages also inspired her to pursue a college education in translation. Nevertheless, although she remains fluent in four languages to this day – English, Spanish, French, Hungarian – Maria unexpectedly found her calling in two fields she had never even considered: music and activism. During her studies, she started working as the receptionist of Argentina’s number one promoter at the time, working with and for global superstars like The Rolling Stones. Unlike many others that could have ended up in her position, Maria was not fangirling over the musical legends that passed her receptionist desk on the daily. On the contrary – she often had no idea who they were.
“I didn’t have any clue who the national artists were, so when they came to have a meeting with [the boss of the promoting agency] I didn’t know who they were and I asked them to stay and wait. Many delivery guys came in and asked, ‘Fito Páez, what are you doing here?’ – and I was like, ‘oh shit.’”
To her relief, Maria’s then-boss Daniel Grinbank took a liking to her non-starstruck ways, and she soon stopped her studies to pursue a full-time career in the music industry. Over the following years, Maria became the anglo assistant at today’s Universal Music Argentina. Her interest in English language lyrics paid off as she worked primarily with international stars, among which an abundance of big names like Deep Purple, Motörhead, ZZ Top, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, The Pretty Reckless, and many, MANY more. As her career accelerated, she gave birth to her son Ignacio, lovingly nicknamed “Nacho”.
In 2001, when Ignacio was three years old, Maria Nolte’s life took an unexpected turn as her son was diagnosed with autism. Confused and misinformed by how little was publicly known about children on the spectrum in Argentina, she decided to quit her job to find out more about Nacho’s diagnosis. “I was told that my son had this condition because I did not give him much love”, Maria remembers. At a specialized healthcare facility in Spain, she learned about the true meaning of her son’s diagnosis and was taught how to care for Ignacio’s needs. Back in Argentina, she started a new job at the record label Pop Art and continued to care for her son as her top priority. But she was not fully satisfied. Knowing how she had been misinformed right after her son’s diagnosis, she found a new purpose in activism.
“I wanted to help other mothers and parents to go through what I did and make it easier. So I started to work with parents who get their diagnosis.”
From organizing nationwide campaigns for April’s Autism Awareness day to convincing toy stores and hairdressers all over Argentina to exclusively cater to children on the spectrum and disabled kids for a day, Maria Nolte became an unstoppable activist and ambassador for the non-neurotypical and disabled. Her son’s second life-changing diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy finally inspired her to open her press agency Indigo Press in 2007. Since then, for the past 14 years, Maria has been dividing her time equally between promoting national and international superstars and fighting for autism and disability awareness. Together with Paula Doradillo and Carlos Fiore, she founded the non-profit organization Mundo TEA y TDAH. Together, the three parents of disabled and autistic children are dedicated to raising awareness of autism and disabilities in Argentina. Without any financial support from the government or other sorts of funding, her relationships within the music industry have helped her reach a nationwide audience with her activism. Just last year, she teamed up with Pablo Romero and Miguel “Maikel” De Luna Campos to release a song from the point of view of an autistic person. Maria Nolte wrote the lyrics herself, describing her view on the world around her if she were a person on the spectrum herself. All profits of their collaborative track “Otros Tiempos” will be donated to a variety of NGOs dedicated to spreading awareness and supporting the disabled and non-neurotypical.
“They’re just the same as neurotypical ones as we are. What we promote is to see them with empathy and create a better society for them. They have the right to experience the world like I did when I was a child. We have to give them the tools to help them achieve this.”
Today, Maria strives to create more opportunities for all people with disabilities and individuals on the spectrum. As much as she relies on spreading awareness of autism and disabilities through the big platform of the music industry, Maria also aims to create job opportunities within the industry for people with autism and mental or physical disabilities. In collaboration with NGOs like “Todos Hacemos Música”, an inclusive organization that encourages disabled individuals to play instruments, Maria wants to help disabled individuals find their calling in music. Furthermore, she hopes to see more people on the spectrum in on stages, in offices, on the cinema screen, and all over the media. According to her, visibility is key – even if the representation is not 100% accurate or at times even slightly inappropriate. “I am happy if it creates a dialogue. The fact is that we were taught to be perfect but perfection is not realistic”, she explains.
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