RED WING, Minn. — A Minnesota musician with autism is hitting the big time.
Joe Bigalke of Red Wing was nominated last year for a Nashville songwriting award. Now, he’s signed a writing deal with Rock the Cause Records.
The company is distributing Bigalke’s first single, “A Friend Above All,” the song up for the award.
“It’s just incredible to think that we’re in 243 countries worldwide,” Bigalke said.
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Bigalke donates a portion of all his royalties to autism awareness and suicide awareness causes, as well as to music education.
“It’s just really incredible how somebody living with high-functioning autism can go from practicing the piano at 2 years old to getting all this national and international attention,” Bigalke said.
Mike Arturi, the founder of Universal Music Center in Red Wing, has mentored Bigalke there for years.
“He’s got a place in his heart for marginalized populations and people with challenges, and he’s showing it,” Arturi said.
Scott Herold, Rock the Cause’s CEO, says Bigalke’s tenacity in sending his music, over the course of many years, is what got his attention.
“He is so persistent in his desire to see his dream come true,” Herold said. “It’s very, very inspiring, and he approaches things fearlessly, very fearlessly.”
Bigalke says being able to support his causes is empowering, and it gives him more incentive to write music.
He’s working on an album. Bigalke and Herold plan to release a Christmas song, Bigalke’s second single, by the holidays.