Gilles Peterson is a broadcaster, DJ and record collector who’s played a pivotal role in supporting forward-thinking underground music in the UK and beyond over the past three decades. He hosts weekly primetime Saturday afternoon show on BBC Radio 6 Music that’s one of the broadcaster’s most popular music shows, helms independent record label Brownswood Recordings, and is the founder of online radio station Worldwide FM.
Throughout his career, Peterson has promoted the new frontiers of jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music. He’s been recognised for his work with an MBE in 2004, an AIM Award for Indie Champion 2013, the Mixmag Award for Outstanding Contribution To Dance Music in 2013, the PRS for Music Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music Radio in 2014, and The A&R Award from The Music Producers Guild in 2019.
Starting his career installing illicit transmitters and hosting shows for pirate radio station Radio Invicta, he later joined the newly-founded Jazz FM and, after that, joined the influential pirate-turned-legal station Kiss FM. In 1998, he was hired by BBC Radio 1, where he hosted a weekly show until his move to his current slot on BBC Radio 6 Music. He also hosts a syndicated radio program that is broadcast all over the globe, from Mexico City to Paris.
He has been behind several game-changing record labels. Firstly, he founded Acid Jazz in the late eighties, and later he started Talkin’ Loud, whose roster included Incognito, Galliano, Young Disciples, Courtney Pine, MJ Cole, Terry Callier, The Roots, 4 Hero, Nuyorican Soul, Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra and Roni Size's Reprazent project. Five of the albums on Talkin Loud were nominated for a Mercury Prize, with Reprazent’s New Forms winning in 1997. His current venture, Brownswood Recordings, was formed in 2006 and has released Ghostpoet’s Mercury Prize-nominated debut album and the 2018 We Out Here project, a celebrated compilation showcasing the UK’s thriving young jazz scene. As a curator and collector, he’s compiled over 100 albums.
In 2011, he founded the Steve Reid Foundation in memory of the legendary jazz drummer. The charity supports musicians who are ill and facing financial difficulties, with past recipients of support including Arthur Blythe, Bernie Worrell and George Cables. They’ve also partnered with the PRS for Music Foundation to create the Steve Reid InNOVAtion Award, which has supported upcoming artists such as Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia and Sarathy Korwar. He curated the Look Up event series in 2018, which explored the arts and mental health and raised £20,000 for youth mental health charity Safaplace.
He is behind several events championing the music that he supports through his DJ sets and radio shows. Since 2005, he has hosted the annual Worldwide Awards in London and Worldwide Festival in Sète, France, and since 2015, a winter ski edition of the latter in Leysin, Switzerland. Gilles set up the online radio station, Worldwide FM, in 2016 and in 2019 he is launching the new We Out Here festival in the UK.