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Peter Gabriel, Aretha Franklin Reflect on Nelson Mandela

Image courtesy of Photo by Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Photo by Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images (via ABC News Radio)

Peter Gabriel had a strong connection to Nelson Mandela , the former South African president who died Thursday at the age of 95. The musician called Mandela a friend and worked with him extensively on human rights issues.

At a New York City event Thursday night for his human rights organization Witness, Peter told ABC News Radio that Mandela's death was "an enormous loss."

Peter said of Mandela, "He's the great figurehead for anyone struggling for human rights, you know, maybe Gandhi before, but to go from to a violent struggle and then reach non-violence and forgiveness and really inspire not only your own people but people all around the world, we haven't seen anything like that." 

The human rights group The Elders, which was launched by Mandela in 2007, began as an idea from Peter and mogul Richard Branson . It's comprised of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights.

Peter's ties to Mandela extend to the musical arena, too. He performed at a 70th birthday concert for Mandela at London's Wembley Stadium in 1988, performing "Biko," about South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko .

Peter was one of many musicians who spoke highly of Mandela following his death. In a phone interview with ABC News, Aretha Franklin shared her own thoughts. The Queen of Soul, who met Mandela in 1990 and later performed at a Mandela Day benefit concert in New York in 2009, said, "Even though he was imprisoned in a small jailhouse, his spirit and his ideals and his heart and his soul could not be imprisoned."

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