SHAD with ZAKI IBRAHIM at Massey Hall (178 Victoria), Friday (March 27), 8 pm. Sold out.
Until now, most knew Shadrach Kabango, aka Shad, as that thoughtful rapper with the witty wordplay and humble, down-to-earth demeanour. That’s about to change when more of Canada gets to know him as the newly minted host of Q, CBC Radio’s flagship arts and culture program.
March was already going to be a big month for the London, Ontario-bred hip-hop artist, with a headlining show at Massey Hall – a career highlight for any musician. But then came the news that he’d been chosen from hundreds of notable candidates to replace beleaguered former host Jian Ghomeshi.
“I hadn’t really considered [broadcasting]. Not really. I mean, maybe later in my career,” says the man of the hour from his current home in Vancouver, where he’s enjoying a rare break from the whirlwind of attention. “But I’ve always approached things like, when someone offers you a chance to do something cool, you don’t say no.”
He’s about to be thrust into a demanding, high-profile public role, made even more so by the stunning fall from grace of the former host, who was fired by the CBC following allegations of violence against women and now faces sexual assault charges. (Ironically, Ghomeshi’s judicial pre-trial begins the day of Shad’s Massey show.)
“I’m really taking my cues from the staff as to where we go from here,” Kabango says. “Everyone’s at different points in the process in terms of moving on from what happened, and I have to respect that. Part of what I’ve always done involves a focus on art and culture and connecting people, so I’m hoping to bring that openness and curiosity to the show.”
Before he launches the new incarnation of Q in front of a live studio audience on April 20, Shad, who insists he’s not leaving his music career behind, plays the Live At Massey series showcasing homegrown acts.
“For many of us in this series, our fans have been with us for some time now, so it’s something that’s really great for them as well. Maybe they can dress up?” he quips, saying his fave shows at Massey were by Maestro and Sigur Rós. “We’ve got a few things up our sleeve. It’s going to be really special.”
A celebratory Toronto welcome seems fitting, given that Shad will be making the 6 his home very soon.
“I’m looking forward to it, but I have some mixed feelings,” he says, chuckling. “Look, the cherry blossoms were out here in February. So when I get there, I’m going to hand MEC my credit card and say, ‘Winter – I’m scared.”
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