Yesterday BASCA, in association with PPL, presented Peter Gabriel with a Gold Badge Award in recognition for his outstanding contribution to British Music.

Here journalist Mark Sutherland profiles the songwriter, innovator and musician and the way he has supported the wider songwriting and composing community throughout his career:

As befitting a man who, as the original lead singer of Genesis, would sometimes dress up on stage as a fox or a giant sunflower, Peter Gabriel has played a huge variety of roles within the music industry.

He is, of course, a great songwriter and staggeringly successful solo artist in his own right, but it’s his extra-curricular activities that have provided the sort of backing for songwriters that they can only usually expect from their immediate family.

Within world music in particular, it’s no exaggeration to say that Gabriel has done more than anyone to help bring the genre to global attention. He founded WOMAD in 1980, an organisation that continues to put on brilliant events today, 35 years later. His Real World record label has helped champion the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Papa Wemba and Geoffrey Oryema; while the studio of the same name has been used by everyone from Manic Street Preachers and elbow to Beyoncé and Kylie Minogue, as well as the giants of world music.

Furthermore, at a time when many in the music business were trying to ignore the opportunities and potential threat offered by the internet, Gabriel proved himself something of a digital visionary. In 1999, he co-founded OD2, one of the UK’s first music download services. And, while many fretted over how to make illegal downloaders ever pay for music, he launched We7 in 2007 as an ad-funded music service, with the stated aim of providing “a real income” for struggling songwriters and musicians.

Established artists like me are going to find all sorts of ways [to make money] and you shouldn’t worry about us,” he said at the time. “But you should worry about young artists coming through.”

And indeed many of those artists have Gabriel to thank for their enduring careers. He himself has shifted millions of copies of albums such as So and Us, picked up countless awards and written songs as revered and renowned as Sledgehammer, Biko, Supper’s Ready, Games Without Frontiers and Don’t Give Up. But, beyond his eternal willingness to collaborate with everyone from Kate Bush to Yossou N’Dour to Joni Mitchell, and his tireless philanthropy and campaigning for the likes of Amnesty International, Gabriel has also always been happy to be a one-man support unit for the songwriters who need it the most. And that makes him a Badge winner worth his weight in Gold.

(c) Mark Sutherland 2015