Peter Gabriel Is a Voice on the Global Stage, Even Outside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Although Peter Gabriel is set to be honored into the Hall of Fame, his advocacy for the use of technology as a tool for social change may be his most significant contribution.

THE STREET (New York) — On Thursday, April 10, I’m going to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch Peter Gabriel, the singer, composer, and all-around musical genius behind hits like Solsbury Hill, Don’t Give Up, In Your Eyes, Shock the Monkey, Games Without Frontiers, and others, be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. However, the honor by itself obscures what might be his greatest contribution.

Building on his curiosity with technology and his social and political concerns, which he expressed in songs like Wallflower and Biko, Gabriel established Witness, an international initiative, in 1992 with the goal of enabling people anywhere to bring important social events to the attention of the world. The project distributes cameras, broadcasts them on its website, stores uploaded stories and footage, and archives the content.

The next year, Witness was established, partly due to the influence of the film of Rodney King’s 1991 beating by police. Witness asked regular people to record abuse and important social events using cameras that were sent to organizations all around the world. On its website, the group states that their mission is “to fight injustice, and to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools that can pressure those in power, or with power, to act.”

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