Just how did Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado and 50 Cent end up performing for members of the Kadafi family?
In short: Money.
The Los Angeles Times’ Reed Johnson and Rick Rojas write, “Some of these artists may be motivated largely by money and are ignorant of, or indifferent to, political concerns. Others like Sting, who performed at a 2009 concert arranged at the behest of the daughter of Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov (known for jailing dissidents and other human rights abuses), see themselves as cultural ambassadors opening new communications channels into closed societies.”
But Carey, like others, says she was unaware “who I was booked to perform for.
She said last week, “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.”
Nevertheless, I suspect that we’ll see more private performances for foreign dictators and their kin, as the fees are just too lucrative at a time of declining record sales and a lackluster live performance business last year. The downside is bad publicity in the short run, but die hard fans will stick with them over time.