Pop singer the Weeknd has donated $1m (£722,000) in food aid to Ethiopia, amid the ongoing conflict in the country’s Tigray region.
“My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction,” he wrote on Instagram. “I will be donating $1 million to provide 2 million meals through the United Nations World Food Program and encourage those who can to please give as well.”
The singer was born Abel Tesfaye in Canada to Ethiopian immigrant parents, Makkonen and Samra Tesfaye.
In 2020, he made a series of major donations to different causes: $1m for coronavirus relief, $500,000 to organisations fighting racial inequality and $300,000 for victims of the port explosion in Beirut.
His most recent album, After Hours, has been a global success. Its lead single Blinding Lights became the first song in history to spend a year in the US Top 10, and was the biggest song of the year in the UK with 2.2m chart sales (a figure drawn from streaming data combined with digital sales). He performed it and other tracks at this year’s Super Bowl half-time show.
Tesfaye has successfully joined the trend for musicians selling their work as NFTs (non-fungible tokens), digital assets with unique ownership certification. He generated $2.2m in revenue from the sale of the NFTs over the last few days, which included an unreleased song and music video sold to a single owner for $490,000. Limited editions of audiovisual artworks and drawings also sold for between $100 and $42,069 at fixed prices or in auction bids.