Jian Ghomeshi Biography
Jian Ghomeshi is a Canadian musician, writer, and former CBC radio broadcaster.From 1990 to 2000, he was a member of the Thornhill-based folk-pop band Moxy Früvous, as a vocalist and drummer. In the 2000s, he became a television and radio broadcaster.
He has hosted, among others, the CBC Newsworld TV show >play (2002–2005), the CBC Radio One radio show The National Playlist (2005–2006), and the CBC Radio One show Q, which he co-created and hosted from 2007 to 2014, until fired by the CBC. Q, which features interviews with prominent cultural and entertainment figures, became the highest rated show in its timeslot in CBC history. Ghomeshi was born on June 9, 1967 in London, England, to Iranian parents Farhang (Frank), a civil engineer, and Azar (Sara) Ghomeshi. When he was a child, he was teased by classmates, who called him “Blackie”. According to Ghomeshi, he grew up in a Muslim household but elsewhere noted that his family was secularist and even celebrated Christmas and Easter.
Jian Ghomeshi Radio Career
In 2002, Ghomeshi became host of CBC Newsworld’s >play, a show about the arts in Canada and abroad. >play ran for three seasons and won a Gemini Award. He also did the weekly entertainment report on the Toronto edition of Canada Now, as well as wrote columns for The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.
In 2006, he finished a documentary series entitled The End, which described technology’s effects on television, radio, and print as well as the future of the media. He hosted the radio series 50 Tracks and 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version on CBC Radio One and CBC Radio 2. From fall 2005 until spring 2006, he hosted a program on Radio One called The National Playlist.
From April 16, 2007 to October 26, 2014, Ghomeshi was the host of Q, a program airing twice daily on CBC Radio One, and on over 170 stations in the United States over Public Radio International. Ghomeshi became “…famous as the coolly insightful host of Q, a marquee interviewer with a mellifluous voice that he would tune to the cadence of his guest, fostering a sense of intimacy.”
As the host of Q, Ghomeshi interviewed a range of musicians, artists, actors, and other notable figures, a list that included Woody Allen, Paul McCartney, Salman Rushdie, Barbara Walters, William Shatner, Jay-Z, Jimmy Wales and Leonard Cohen. In 2012, Ghomeshi received the Gold Award for best talk show host at the New York Festivals International Radio Awards.
By 2013, with Ghomeshi as the show’s host, Q had a weekly audience of more than 2.5 million listeners weekly in Canada and 550,000 listeners in the United States. During his time as host of Q Ghomeshi many times booked guests who shared his agent and lawyer without disclosing this connection.
Ghomeshi hosted the 2009 Dora Mavor Moore Awards ceremony. He was set to host the November 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize awards gala but was replaced in October by comedian Rick Mercer. In November 2014, he was replaced as the host of the CBC competition Canada Reads by Wab Kinew, the previous year’s winner.
In December 2014 the CBC announced that it would not be rebroadcasting Ghomeshi’s interviews and it would be removing them from the CBC’s online archive. Reactions to this decision were swift and varied and, after further deliberations by CBC management, the decision was reversed.
Jian Ghomeshi Charges
On November 26, 2014, following termination by the CBC, Ghomeshi turned himself in to Toronto Police and was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking, after an investigation that began on October 31, 2014. The charges concern three separate women. He appeared in court on the same day and was released on $100,000 bail on the conditions that he surrender his passport, stay within Ontario and live with his mother.
Ghomeshi appeared in court again on January 8, 2015, and was charged with three additional counts of sexual assault related to three more women. In a court appearance on February 26, 2015, a judicial pretrial was set for March 27, 2015, and was later put over to April 28, 2015. His lawyer, Marie Henein, stated that he would plead not guilty to all charges. On October 1, 2015, Ghomeshi pleaded not guilty to one count of choking and four counts of sexual assault.
The trial of Ghomeshi began on February 1, 2016, and lasted eight days. On March 24, 2016, the judge acquitted Ghomeshi of all charges on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The inconsistency and “outright deception” of the witness’ testimony had irreparably weakened the prosecution’s case. Judge William Horkins accused the complainants of “lying or trying to conceal evidence from the court”.
A second trial for one additional charge was scheduled for June 2016. On May 11, 2016, however, the Crown withdrew the last remaining charge, re: the alleged sexual assault against Borel, after Ghomeshi signed a peace bond which does not include an admission of guilt. (The publication ban as to the name of the victim, Borel, was lifted on May 11, 2016.) According to Borel, Henein approached Borel’s representation to ask for an alternative to a trial, and after several exchanges Ghomeshi agreed to apologize to Borel and did so formally.
Afterwards, Borel issued a formal statement to the media, maintaining that Ghomeshi was guilty of sexual assault but that “a trial would have maintained his lie, the lie that he was not guilty, and would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop”.
Jian Ghomeshi Music
In 1983, Ghomeshi and friends Murray Foster, Tracy Jones, Reno Manfredi, and John Ruttle formed a band called Tall New Buildings. Tall New Buildings released two 12” EPs and played various gigs in and outside of Toronto before breaking up around 1988. Ghomeshi, Murray Foster and another bandmate, Mike Ford, then formed a band called The Chia Pets.
In 1989, they were joined by Dave Matheson to form the politically satirical folk-pop band Moxy Früvous and together they recorded eight albums before going on permanent hiatus in 2001. Moxy Früvous was originally inspired by street-performing or busking bands and Ghomeshi and bandmates started out by playing on streets in Toronto.
Ghomeshi sang and played drums. He was credited as “Jean” rather than Jian on the band’s first album but reverted to the original spelling of his name for subsequent albums. A year after forming, Moxy Früvous was opening for headline performers like Bob Dylan. Moxy Früvous sold over 50,000 copies of their debut independent EP in 1992 (gold in Canada).
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Their debut album Bargainville went platinum in Canada in 1994 after selling over 100,000 copies. The band was also nominated for a Juno award as Band of the Year in 1994. Over the course of eight albums, they sold over 500,000 copies of their albums in Canada and the United States and made an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Ghomeshi released his first solo EP, The First 6 Songs, in July 2001.
A 1996 video tape, revealed in 2014, suggested that Ghomeshi disdained his audiences, stating on camera that people paying to see the band’s shows were “losers” and “fucking idiots”. David Yuhnke, who was present at the recording, suspected that Ghomeshi was joking, recalling that the room’s atmosphere was “sarcasm-laded”, but added that he found it “hard to gauge entirely if he [Ghomeshi] was being serious or not”.
In 1999, Ghomeshi began a correspondence with a 16-year-old girl, Sally Block, who was a fan of Moxy Fruvous. This continued for three years and included in-person meetings where Ghomeshi is alleged to have been “handsy” with her.
In 2002, they had a falling out and Block broke into Ghomeshi’s email account. Ghomeshi sought to have her banned from “FruCon” – a Moxy Fruvous convention – and wanted criminal charges to be pressed against her. She was allowed to attend FruCon and Ghomeshi dropped the issue after her father confronted him for “carrying on this type of relationship with an underage girl”.
Ghomeshi’s production company, Jian Ghomeshi Productions Inc., managed musician Martina Sorbara (now of the band Dragonette) and produced music for Dar Williams. He managed electropop artist Lights from 2007 until 2014, during which time she won the Juno Award for Best New Artist and was nominated for several more.
Lights initially supported Ghomeshi after he was accused of sexual abuse in 2014, but later dropped him as her manager, saying: “I rushed to defend my manager of 12 years. I am now aware that my comments appear insensitive to those impacted and for that I am deeply sorry”.