Nelly Furtado to give back Gaddafi cash — Beyonce, Usher mum

Zachary Roth
Senior National Affairs Reporter
The Lookout

Libyan strongman Col. Muammar Gaddafi's bloody suppression of a huge popular uprising is generating international outrage. But it's also raising awkward questions for some of pop music's biggest names.

Earlier today, Nelly Furtado announced on Twitter that she would donate the $1 million she was paid by the Gaddafi "clan" in 2007 to play a concert at an Italian hotel.

But the Maneater is hardly the only big-time star who has reportedly cashed in by performing for members of Libya's hard-partying first family. And not everyone seems to be following her example by pledging to give up the dough.

• According to a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, Mariah Carey was paid $1 million to sing just four songs at a lavish New Year's Day 2009 bash on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, hosted by Col. Gaddafi's son and national-security adviser, Muatassim.

• The following year, according to another cable, it was Beyonce (estimated by Forbes to earn $80 million a year) and Usher who provided the "million-dollar personal concert" at Muatassim's St. Barts blowout.  That raised some eyebrows at the time: DJ Sam Young tweeted: "Jigga [Jay-Z], Beyonce & Usher were @ Nikki Beach performing for Khadafy family, WTF?" (Jay-Z is married to Beyonce. Despite Young's Tweet, it hasn't been confirmed that he performed.)

• And Lionel Richie reportedly performed at a 2006 concert in Tripoli to mark the 20-year anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Libya -- it's not known how much he was paid. Richie, who is said to enjoy immense popularity across the Arab world, has been honored as a "celebrity humanitarian."

But there's no evidence that any of these performers plan to imitate Furtado by giving up the tainted cash.  Reps for Carey, Beyonce, Usher, and Richie did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Lookout.

(AP Photo/Jim Cooper: Beyonce, November 2008)