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Following in the footsteps of Nelly Furtado, Beyonce has announced that she has handed over the $1 million she earned performing for family members of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to charity.
The singer – who performed with Usher at a 2009 New Year’s Eve party in St. Barts – gave the money to “earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, over a year ago,” her publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure , told the Huffington Post Wednesday. “Once it became known that the third party promoter was linked to the Qaddafi family, the decision was made to put that payment to a good cause.”
Still no word from reps for Mariah Carey, Usher or Lionel Richie, all of whom also performed for Gaddafi.
It raises a new question in the industry: Which private shows are unethical?
Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, says donating fees from the Gadhafi gigs sends the wrong message.
“I absolutely believe it is a mistake and an over-reaction to a trumped up press story to give back the money that any of the artists received for doing their jobs,” he tells Billboard. “Most of the names I have read about, including Beyonce, Nelly Furtado, Usher, and Mariah Carey — all have active foundations and are philanthropists. They should continue in those endeavors and not single out fees they received for these play dates as if they were admitting to doing something wrong.”
Phillips argues that if artists were asked to perform for Gadhafi’s kids today, “the answer would obviously be a resounding ‘no way!’ The press has a tendency to try to make us all Monday morning quarterbacks.”
But Greg Janese, who books corporate and private shows for Paradigm Artists, including Black Eyed Peas, says the nature of the shows should raise eyebrows regardless of timing. “I did get contacted by that Gadhafi thing and I ran like the wind,” he says. “It sounded like a cluster to me.”
Dennis Arfa, president of Artists Group International, says most of the time artists “are sensitive to what is going on, and to some degrees different people are sensitive to different things. But you always present who a party is for. Most of the time it’s a non-factor.”
Still, he says, “you can’t use today’s current events to say what you should or shouldn’t have done six months ago. That’s not a fair rule.” As for the Gadhafi gigs, he says, “It wasn’t like they’re going in there now and entertaining the Libyan army.”
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