The Italian Almanac

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Peter Gabriel

Italian News - November 20

Music can make a difference even in a world riven by ethnic tensions, war and terrorism, British musician Peter Gabriel said on Friday, soon after picking up his Man of Peace award in Rome. "Music is like water. You look at it and you ask what power it has. But if it's channeled, it can erode mountains," the 56-year-old former Genesis frontman argued.

"If enough people are involved and the voices are loud enough, governments will listen," he added. Gabriel's 1980 song 'Biko', an appeal to remember South African anti-Apartheid leader Steve Biko, was part of the emergence of Apartheid as an important issue in the West in the 1980s. Since then, his support for and involvement in human rights causes has gradually grown, and his music has frequently been put at the service of these causes, through tours with like-minded artists.

The musician said that, apart from being an effective tool in political campaigns, music also has the crucial ability to foster multicultural understanding and communication. In 1980, Gabriel founded WOMAD, a highly successful initiative which organises international festivals of music, arts and dance from around the globe. The idea is to encourage people to give music which is 'foreign' to them a chance.

Countering the international tensions have recently seen parts the Islamic world at odds with the West, Gabriel extolled the value of the music produced by many Muslim artists. "Music isn't the solution to the world's problems. It's a form of expression. But by listening to different music, people may understand each other a little better".