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SOJA at Woodstock 2013
Background information
OriginArlington, Virginia, United States
GenresReggae, reggae rock[1]
Years active1997–present
LabelsATO Records
MapleMusic Recordings (Canada)
DMV Records
Associated actsNahko and Medicine for the People
Michael Franti
Collie Buddz
Supa Dups
Damian Marley
J Boog
MembersJacob Hemphill
Bob Jefferson
Ryan "Byrd" Berty
Ken Brownell
Patrick O'Shea
Hellman Escorcia
Rafael Rodriguez
Trevor Young
Past membersEric Rogers (1997–2002)

SOJA 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[2] peaked at #11 on the Top Heatseekers chart,[2] while their 2012 album Strength to Survive topped the Billboard Reggae Album Chart.[3] The band continues to tour and record new music.[4]


1997–05: Founding, early releases[edit]

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.[3][4] He and Jefferson then met Ryan Berty (drums), Eric Rogers (keyboards), and Ken Brownell (percussion) in middle and high school.[3]

Founding years of SOJA with Ken Brownell (far left), Jacob Hemphill (left), Bobby Lee Jefferson (center), and Eric Rogers (right).

After forming SOJA in 1997, Jacob Hemphill, Eric Rogers, Bob Jefferson, Ryan "Byrd" Berty and Kenneth Brownell recorded their first album Creeping In in 1998, and the EP self-titled SOJA,[5][6] independently with sound engineer Jim Fox at LION and FOX Recording Studios in 2000.[7] It was positively received.[7]

SOJA performing circa 2000. Bobby Lee Jefferson (left) and Eric Rogers (right).

The band also released their first full-length album, Peace in a Time of War in 2002.

Eric Rogers was the talented heartbeat for the keyboard rhythms on Creeping In, EP self-titled SOJA, and Peace in a Time of War. However, fans never really knew or saw the artist behind those keys. SOJA replaced Eric Rogers with Patrick O’Shea in 2002. Eric's distinct guitar riffs can be heard on "Time Come Due," it is a beautiful opus to his innate musical talent. The richness of his soul is felt through every pulse of the keyboard. His harmonious and distinguished vocal contributions can distinctly be heard on "Jah Atmosphere," "True Love," and "Brothers and Sisters."

SOJA released a Dub version of the album titled Dub in a Time of War in 2005.[8]

2006–09: Releases with label[edit]

In 2006, the band released Get Wiser, their second full-length album, and their first on the record label Innerloop.[2] It debuted in the Top 10 Reggae Albums on iTunes and has remained in the top 100 since its release.[9] 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.[citation needed] The show was recorded and was released as a DVD, known as the Get Wiser Live DVD, on November 21, 2007.[2]

In January 2008, they released an EP titled, Stars and Stripes.[2] That same month in Hawaii, SOJA recorded their live performances in Oahu, Maui, and Kailua-Kona.[citation needed] Those performances were released as a DVD, known as the SOJA – Live in Hawaii, on January 8, 2009.[2]

2009–18: Recent years[edit]

The band has released 1 major album and toured largely Virginia. A great promotional effort by Nick Yuen in the release of their new album "Live in Virginia" following "Born in Babylon"

SOJA released their third full-length album Born in Babylon on August 21, 2009, on DMV Records.[2] It peaked at #11 on the Top Heatseekers chart, and reached #38 on the Independent Albums chart.[2] Trevor Young, formerly SOJA's guitar tech, became lead guitar and backup vocals in late 2011.[10]

SOJA at Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2011. Rafael Rodriguez (left) and Jacob Hemphill (right).

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[3] in both 2012 and 2013. It was also No. 9 for the year end Reggae Albums chart on Billboard, and reached no. 36 on the Billboard 200, as well as no. 2 on the Independent Albums chart.[11] 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."[12]

The band at Woodstock 2013

On December 17, 2013, Eric Rogers passed away from challenges with mental health disorders. The Rogers family dedicates this portion of SOJA's biography to honor Eric's life and music.

Amid the Noise and Haste

In 2014 they released Amid the Noise and Haste on ATO.[2] 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.[13] The album topped the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, and received a Grammy nomination in the 'Best Reggae Album' category.[14][15]

Poetry in Motion

In October 2017, they released Poetry in Motion with ATO label with the following songs: Moving Stones. I Can't Stop Dreaming. Tried My Best. More. Fire in the Sky. Everything to Me. Life Support. Bad News. To Whom It May Concern. Sing to Me. I Found You.

In 2018, they booked in some festivals in the US and touring on Europe on summer.


Percussionist Ken Brownell in 2011


Studio albums[edit]

Studio albums by SOJA
Year Album title Release details Chart peaks[11] Certifications
200 Regg Heat Ind
  • Released: 1998
  • Label: Independent
  • Format: Cassette
2002 Peace in a Time of War
  • Released: Jun 5, 2002
  • Label: DMV Records
  • Format: CD, digital
2004 Dub in a Time of War
  • Released: Jan 13, 2004
  • Label: self-released
  • Format: CD, digital
2006 Get Wiser
  • Released: Jan 2006
  • Label: Innerloop
  • Format: CD, digital
2009 Born In Babylon
  • Released: Aug 25, 2009
  • Label: DMV Records
  • Format: CD, digital
11 38
2012 Strength to Survive
  • Released: Jan 31, 2012
  • Label: ATO Records
  • Format: CD, digital
36 1 2
2014 Amid the Noise and Haste
  • Released: Aug 12, 2014
  • Label: ATO Records
  • Format: CD, digital
20 1
2017 Poetry In Motion
  • Released: October 27, 2017
  • Label: ATO Records
  • Format: CD, digital

Live albums[edit]

Live albums by SOJA
Year Album title Release details Chart peaks[11] Certifications
200 Regg Heat Ind
2016 SOJA: Live in Virginia
  • Released: 2016
  • Label: ATO
  • Format: digital


Year Album title Release details
2000 SOJA (EP)
  • Released: Jan 1, 2000
  • Label: DMV Records
  • Format: CD, digital
2008 Stars & Stripes (EP)
  • Released: Jan 2008
  • Label: Innerloop
  • Format: CD, digital


Incomplete list of songs by SOJA
Year Song title Album
2009 "I Don't Wanna Wait"[17] Born in Babylon
2010 "I Tried (Don Corleon Remix)" (feat. Gentleman)[18] 1 track single
2012 "Not Done Yet"[19]
"Everything Changes" (feat. O Rappa) [20]
2013 "F**k Your System (Jr Blender Mentality RMX)" (feat. J Boog)[21]
"She Still Loves Me" (feat. Collie Buddz)[22]
"Tell Me" (Jr Blender RMX feat. Richie Campbell)[23]
2014 "I Believe" (feat. Michael Franti and Nahko Bear)[24]
"Your Song" (feat. Damian Marley) Promo single/
Amid The Noise and Haste
2017 Bad News Promo single
2017 More Promo single


DVDs featuring SOJA
Year Album title Release details
2006 Get Wiser Live DVD
  • Released: Jan 6, 2006
  • Label: Innerloop
  • Format: DVD
2009 SOJA – Live in Hawaii
  • Released: Jan 8, 2009
  • Label: self-released
  • Format: DVD

Production credits[edit]

Albums produced by SOJA
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

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeffries, David. "SOJA – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Soldiers of Jah Army". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  3. ^ a b c d Jackson, Kevin (2013) "Band SOJA marches on", Jamaica Observer, 24 May 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013
  4. ^ a b "About the Band". SOJA Music. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  5. ^ "Soja EP". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  6. ^ "SOJA (EP)". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  7. ^ a b "SOJA EP (SOJA, 2000)". Reggae Reviews. 2000. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  8. ^ "Soldiers Of Jah Army". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  9. ^ Loughlin, Sean (March 24, 2014). "Popular reggae band Soja ready to bring their popular energy, amazing music to House of Blues Thursday". Atlantic City Insiders. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  10. ^ "Trevor Young". PRS Guitars. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  11. ^ a b c "SOJA". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  12. ^ Anderson, Rick (January 31, 2012). "Strength to Survive Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  13. ^ "PRS Artists". Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  14. ^ Jackson, Kevin (2014) "SOJA is number one", Jamaica Observer, 22 August 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014
  15. ^ Jackson, Kevin (2014) "Six vie for Reggae Grammy album", Jamaica Observer, 5 December 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014
  16. ^ "Ziggy gets GRAMMY nom for Best Reggae Album with 'Fly Rasta'". July 12, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  17. ^ ""I Don't Wanna Wait" by SOJA". iTunes. 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  18. ^ ""I Tried (Don Corleon Remix)" by SOJA". iTunes. 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  19. ^ ""Not Done Yet" by SOJA". iTunes. 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  20. ^ ""Everything Changes" by SOJA". iTunes. 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  21. ^ ""F**k Your System" by SOJA". iTunes. 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  22. ^ ""She Still Loves Me" by SOJA". iTunes. 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  23. ^ ""Tell Me" by SOJA". iTunes. 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  24. ^ ""I Believe" by SOJA". iTunes. 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-16.

External links[edit]