Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer-songwriter, musician and humanitarian activist who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock band Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career. His 1986 album, So, is his most commercially successful, selling five million copies in America, and the album's biggest hit, Sledgehammer, won a record nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards. Sledgehammer remains the most played music video in the history of MTV.
Gabriel has been a champion of world music for much of his career. He co-founded the WOMAD festival in 1982. He has continued to focus on producing and promoting world music through his Real World Records label. He has also pioneered digital distribution methods for music, co-founding OD2, one of the first online music download services. Gabriel has been involved in numerous humanitarian efforts. In 1980, he released the anti-apartheid single Biko. He has participated in several human rights benefit concerts, including Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! tour in 1988, and co-founded the WITNESS human rights organization in 1992. In collaboration with entrepreneur Richard Branson, Gabriel developed The Elders, which was launched by Nelson Mandela in 2007.
Gabriel has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male in 1987, six Grammy Awards, thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, the first Pioneer Award at the BT Digital Music Awards, and in 2007 he was honored as a BMI Icon at the 57th annual BMI London Awards for his influence on generations of music makers. In recognition of his many years of human rights activism, he received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in 2006, and in 2008, TIME magazine named Gabriel one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Gabriel was also honored with the Q magazine Lifetime Achievement award in 2006, the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2007, and the Polar Music Prize in 2009.