LONDON (Reuters) - Singers Beyonce and Mariah Carey have sought to distance themselves from the tainted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, for whose entourage they both performed at glitzy New Year’s eve parties.
They joined Canadian artist Nelly Furtado, who used her Twitter account on Monday to declare she would give away the $1 million she received to perform a 45-minute set in Italy for Gaddafi’s family in 2007.
Pop stars’ association with Gaddafi and his sons has caused considerable embarrassment this week as the Libyan ruler orders a brutal crackdown on an uprising against his rule.
The music press has highlighted how artists including Beyonce and Carey have earned large paydays for sometimes brief appearances at lavish parties hosted by Gaddafi family members, including his son Muatassim. The stars have faced calls from fans and the public to give back the money they made.
Beyonce said she donated the cash she earned at a private party on the Caribbean island of St. Barts on New Year’s Eve, 2009 to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti after learning the promoter had links to Gaddafi.
“Once it became known that the third party promoter was linked to the Qaddafi (Gaddafi) family, the decision was made to put that payment to a good cause,” she said in a statement posted on her website.
On Thursday, Carey confirmed she had performed at a similar function “thrown by the sons of vicious, crazy dictator” Gaddafi and expressed her embarrassment, although she stopped short of promising to give the cash earned to charity.
A statement on her website said: “At the time, Libya was not in the news...Now it’s become an issue in hindsight, which is sort of ridiculous.”
She added that she would donate the proceeds from a new song “Save the Day” for unspecified “human rights issues” and stressed her previous charity work.
“I was naive and unaware of who I was booked to perform for,” she said.
“I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess. Going forward, this is a lesson for all artists to learn from. We need to be more aware and take more responsibility regardless of who books our shows.
“Ultimately we as artists are to be held accountable.”
The International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Thursday that Gaddafi, his sons and members of their inner circle could be held responsible for crimes by their security forces.
The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Gaddafi and his family on Saturday, and referred Libya’s crackdown on demonstrators to the court.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White