SOJA (Soldiers Of Jah Army) is an American Grammy-nominated reggae band based in Arlington, Virginia. Formed in 1997, their music is currently produced under ATO Records. The eight-member band has released a number of singles, albums, and DVDs, including SOJA – Live in Hawaii. Their third full-length album Born in Babylon peaked at #11 on the Top Heatseekers chart, while their 2012 album Strength to Survive topped the Billboard Reggae Album Chart. The band continues to tour and record new music.
1997-05: Founding, early releases
Before the band was founded the members had performed together on and off for some years. Frontman Jacob Hemphill (vocals, guitar) and Bob Jefferson (bass) met in first grade shortly after Hemphill had returned with his family from living in Africa, where Jacob's father was the IMF resident representative in Monrovia, Liberia. He and Jefferson then met Ryan Berty (drums), Patrick O'Shea (keyboards), and Ken Brownell (percussion) in middle and high school.
After forming SOJA in 1997, the members recorded their first album CREEPING IN in 1998. Next came the EP self-titled SOJA, independently with sound engineer Jim Fox at LION and FOX Recording Studios in 2000. It was positively received. The band released their first full-length album, Peace in a Time of War, in 2002. SOJA then released a Dub version of the album titled Dub in a Time of War in 2005.
2006-09: Releases with label
In 2006, the band released Get Wiser, their second full-length album, and their first on the record label Innerloop. It debuted in the Top 10 Reggae Albums on iTunes and has remained in the top 100 since its release. The album release party was held on January 6, 2006 at The State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia. It consisted of two separate sets, with the opening set being older songs, and the second set being Get Wiser in its entirety. The show was recorded and was released as a DVD, known as the Get Wiser Live DVD, on November 21, 2007.
In January 2008, they released an EP titled, Stars and Stripes. That same month in Hawaii, SOJA recorded their live performances in Oahu, Maui, and Kailua-Kona. Those performances were released as a DVD, known as the SOJA – Live in Hawaii, on January 8, 2009.
2009-14: Recent years
SOJA released their third full-length album Born in Babylon on August 21, 2009, on DMV Records. It peaked at #11 on the Top Heatseekers chart, and reached #38 on the Independent Albums chart. Trevor Young, formerly SOJA's guitar tech, became lead guitar and backup vocals in late 2011.
The band released their next album Strength to Survive on January 31, 2012, their first album on ATO Records. It sold over 50,000 copies, and topped the Billboard Reggae Album Chart in both 2012 and 2013. It was also No. 9 for the year end Reggae Albums chart on Billboard, and reached #36 on the Billboard 200, as well as #2 on the Independent Albums chart. It received 3.5/5 stars from Allmusic, with the website praising the band's growth as songwriters and Hemphill's vocal developments. While Allmusic criticized the non-reggae acoustic tracks at the end of the album, it stated that overall "you've got one of the best American reggae albums of the year."
- Amid the Noise and Haste
In 2014 they released Amid the Noise and Haste, a studio album on ATO. Produced by Supa Dups, the album was recorded throughout 2013. Guest artists include Damian Marley, J Boog, Anuhea, and Collie Buddz. Hemphill penned the lyrics, chords, and melodies of the songs. The album topped the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, and received a Grammy nomination in the 'Best Reggae Album' category.
- Jacob Hemphill (lead vocals, guitar)
- Bobby Lee Jefferson (bass, vocals)
- Patrick O'Shea (keyboards)
- Ryan "Bird" Berty (drums)
- Ken Brownell (percussion)
- Hellman Escorcia (saxophone)
- Rafael Rodriguez (trumpet)
- Trevor Young (guitar, vocals)
- Eric Rogers (keyboards)
|Year||Album title||Release details||Chart peaks||Certifications|
|2002||Peace in a Time of War||—||—||—||—|
|2004||Dub in a Time of War||—||—||—||—|
|2009||Born In Babylon||—||—||11||38|
|2012||Strength to Survive||36||1||—||2|
|2014||Amid the Noise|
|Year||Album title||Release details|
|2008||Stars & Stripes (EP)|
|2009||"I Don't Wanna Wait"||Born in Babylon|
|2010||"I Tried (Don Corleon Remix)" (feat. Gentleman)||1 track single|
|2012||"Not Done Yet"|
|"Everything Changes" (feat. O Rappa) |
|2013||"F**k Your System (Jr Blender Mentality RMX)" (feat. J Boog)|
|"She Still Loves Me" (feat. Collie Buddz)|
|"Tell Me" (Jr Blender RMX feat. Richie Campbell)|
|2014||"I Believe" (feat. Michael Franti and Nahko Bear)|
|"Your Song" (feat. Damian Marley)||Promo single/|
Amid The Noise and Haste
|Year||Album title||Release details|
|2006||Get Wiser Live DVD|
|2009||SOJA – Live in Hawaii|
|Yr||Release title||Artist(s)||Notes, role|
|2008||Syr Mahber -|
A SOJA Production
|Various (Bobby Lee (SOJA), Luciano, Prezident Brown, Zedicus, Queen Ifrica, Ras Attitude, Jacob Hemphill (SOJA), Sister Carol, Ras Abel, Batch, Tony Rebel, Fear Nuttin Band, Don Carmelo (Gomba Jahbari), Jah Dan & Junior Kelly)||Production and track compilation, released Oct 4, 2008|