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'Yeah!' Usher is giving back Libya money

By Ed Payne, CNN
R&B star Usher has said he will return the money he was paid to perform on the Caribbean island of St. Bart's in 2009.
R&B star Usher has said he will return the money he was paid to perform on the Caribbean island of St. Bart's in 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Top entertainers perform for family members of Libyan leader
  • Concerts are held in Caribbean, Europe and North Africa
  • Many of the artists are paid $1 million
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(CNN) -- Add R&B star Usher to the list of entertainers giving up the paychecks they earned performing for members of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's family.

"I am sincerely troubled to learn about the circumstances surrounding the Nikki Beach St. Bart's event that took place on New Year's Eve 2009, " Usher said in a statement Monday. "I will be donating all of my personal proceeds from that event to various human rights organizations."

According to U.S. diplomatic cables posted by WikiLeaks, the Caribbean island was the site for a New Year's Eve party thrown by Mutassim Gadhafi, Libya's national security advisor and one of the dictator's sons. Usher, along with Beyonce, were the entertainment in what the cables called a $1 million personal concert.

Beyonce said through a representative last week that she had donated the money she received to earthquake relief in Haiti.

The same Gadhafi son on the same island a year earlier paid $1 million to hear Mariah Carey sing on New Year's Eve 2008, the cables said. She sang four songs.

In a statement released last week, Carey said she was "naive and unaware of who I was booked to perform for. I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess."

Carey added in her statement that she plans to donate proceeds from a new song, "Save the Day," to human rights organizations.

"Going forward, this is a lesson for all artists to learn from," she said. "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."

Between the cables posted on WikiLeaks and artists' own admissions, no less than five performers have entertained the Gadhafis at a host of international locales. Last week, Canadian pop singer Nelly Furtado acknowledged on her Twitter account that she performed for members of the Gadhafi clan.

"In 2007, I received 1million$ from the Qaddafi clan to perform a 45 min. Show for guests at a hotel in Italy," read a tweet on Furtado's official account Monday. "I am going to donate the $."

In 2006, the Gadhafis brought pop star Lionel Richie to Libya to perform. The concert marked the 20th anniversary of a U.S. raid on the North African country.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered the attack after Libya was implicated in the fatal bombing at a West Berlin nightclub that left one American service member dead.

CNN reached out to representatives of Richie for comment, but received no response.

CNN's Douglas Hyde contributed to this report

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