Music is defined in the dictionary as vocal and/or instrumental sounds combined in such a way to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion. It is an art form that is taken for granted in our world, but not by the Grammy award-winning reggae group SOJA (standing for Soldiers of Jah Army). If anybody knows how to make good music, it is these eight talented musicians.
The band was born in 1997 in Arlington, Virginia, it’s members include Jacob Hemphill on lead vocals and guitar and Bobby Lee on the bass and vocals. Ryan Berty is on the drums with Kenny Bongos on percussion. Patrick O’Shea takes the keyboards, Hellman Escorcia rocks the saxophone, and Rafael Rodriguez on the trumpet. Last but certainly not least isTrevor Young on the lead guitar. Jacob Hemphill and Bob Jefferson began their journey together when they met in first grade. They added on to their dream-team throughout middle and high school. Each of these members contributes equally to making the music they are known for. The band is currently producing under ATO Records, with the semi-recent release of their newest album Amid the Noise and Haste. The band’s first full-length album was produced in 2002 titled Peace in a Time of War, with another album following it named Dub in a Time of War three years later. Once SOJA became apart of the record label,Innerloop they released their second full-length album Get Wiser in 2006. This album brought the band major praise; it was on the Top 10 Reggae Albums on iTunes as well as other highly accredited music sources.
In the last five years SOJA has made great strides climbing up through the music industry. Born in Babylon was the band’s third full-length album released in 2009, which made number eleven on the Top Heatseekers chart. Three years later their most famous album was released, Strength to Survive and topped the Billboard Reggae Album Chart in not only 2012 but 2013 as well. Just in the past year SOJA has yet again produced another album Amid the Noise and Haste with featured artists Damian Marley, Collie Budz, Anuhea, and J Boog. It is no surprise that this album has been a success as well, and will continue to be as it is heard across the world.
Although there are huge names in the reggae industry SOJA has made their name one of them. SOJA speaks the truth throughout their songs and pushes their listeners to really think and find the insight within them. “Maybe we need to look at this world less like a square and more like a circle.” This quote from the song “Everything Changes” off the the album Strength to Survive is just a minor example of how this group injects their perspectives and places them in their tracks. The heart they put into their work is the reason they have and will always be one of my favorite bands.
Written By: Taylor Robinson
*Note none of the photos/videos used in this article are property of Bass Feeds the Soul and belong to their respective owners