Blogaroo: Day 6: SOJA

31 May

Soldiers of Jah Army, or SOJA, got their start in Arlington, Virginia in the late-1990s.

Jacob Hemphill (vocals, guitar) and Bob Jefferson (bass) met in first grade soon after Hemphill had returned from Africa, where his father was working as a defense contrator in Uganda. The lifelong friends teamed up with Eric Rogers (keyboard), Ryan Berty (drums) and Ken Brownell (percussion) in middle and high school, and the group recorded their self-titled album, Soldiers of Jah Army, in 2000. Patrick O’Shea replaced Rogers in 2003, shortly after the group released their first full-length album, Peace in a Time of War.

The band recently released their newest album, Strength to Survive, on Jan. 31, so hopefully they’ll perform some new hits at Bonnaroo.

As a native Virginian, I love me some SOJA, and it’s been far too long since I’ve seen them live. Even though they are just starting to come into the limelight and make a name for themselves, they’ve always been hometown heros.

I may be partial because Addam resembles Hemphill, but their music hits hard. The group is a welcome breath of fresh air in today’s reggae market, and it takes about 2.5 seconds to realize that they’ve learned from the legends.

Take a minute to listen to Sorry and let me know what you think.

SOJA is playing at 10 p.m. on Thursday, and they’re not up against anyone that Addam and I are desperate to see. They’re also hosting an interview and performance at one of Roo’s smaller stages at 2 p.m. on Friday, which we may be able to catch. It would present an awesome opportunity to meet the band and grab a quick pic, so my fingers are crossed.


  • Creeping In (1998)
  • Soldiers of Jah Army (2000)
  • Peace in a Time of War (2003)
  • Dub in a Time of War (2005)
  • Get Wiser (2007)
  • Stars & Stripes EP (2008)
  • Born In Babylon (2009)
  • Strength to Survive (2012)

Sounds Like:

Songs to Listen For:

  1. Open My Eyes
  2. Everything Changes
  3. Gone Today
  4. Don’t Worry
  5. You Don’t Know Me

Times at Roo: 0

Times I’ve Seen Them: 2

“When I look to see the sun, I can feel positive and negative at once, ’cause it could be a brand new day or the same old one. So, I wait just to see exactly what kind of day it’s gonna be. I can feel that either way I, I guess, I got lucky.” — SOJA, Gone Today, Strength to Survive (2012).

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