D.C. band comes to the Fox
Soldiers of Jah Army, commonly known as SOJA, is a reggae band out of Washington D.C. famous for their powerful live performances.
The band has been together for 12 years, and in that time has grown from a local phenomenon to having huge followings internationally. SOJAís latest album, ďBorn in Babylon,Ē was released Aug. 25.
SOJA consists of Kenneth Brownell (percussion), Bobby Lee (bass/vocals) and Jacob Hemphill (guitar/vocals), Patrick OíShea (keys), and Ryan Berty (drums).
SOJA creates intricate music but maintains a level of improvisation on stage, making their live shows so powerful. The band has been together for the last twelve years.
ďWeíre like brothers so that helps, because we knew each other for 13 years before that [12 years] anyways,Ē Lee said. ďWe all grew up together and it just carries over into the band.Ē
The name Soldiers of Jah Army suggests the band might have religious roots, but this is a common misconception.
ďIts not religious in the sense that you know we follow only one belief; we try to find truth from every religion, so you canít really say its religious music,Ē Lee said.
The bandís name was inspired by a common phrase the band members would say when they were younger.
ďWe wore a lot of camouflage and people always asked us why,Ē Lee said. ďWe were young, we would be like, ĎWeíre soldiers of jah army, thatís whassup!í and then we were coming up with a name for the band and it just fit.Ē
SOJA may be considered a reggae band, but their unique message combines elements of faith, politics, and love.† Hemphill explained the reason reggae was so important to them was the message it had to offer.
ďItís different from other types of music; itís world-changing, life-changing, people-changing,Ē Hemphill said.†ďWe want it to be something more than just music, to have an effect on the world.Ē
The politically-charged lyrics of songs like ďPeace in a Time of WarĒ and ďRasta CourageĒ can be traced back to growing up in Washington D.C.†Being from the nationís capital made politics a huge part of SOJAís music.
ďItís time-specific to whatís going on in the world and being conscious,Ē Hemphill said. ďItís what I see is going on now plus a bunch of love songs.Ē
At the SOJA concert, fans poured into the theatre and filled up the dance floor. The excitement in the crowd was palpable as everyone waited for the headliner to take stage.
Kristy Miller, a sophomore open-option major, said she has seen SOJA live over 20 different times all over the country, giving credence to the impressiveness of the bandís live show.
ďSOJAís live show is absolutely amazing; you have to experience it to know what Iím talking about,Ē Miller said.
The lights went down low as SOJA took the stage.†Shouts of ďWhat up, D.C!Ē and ďLight it up!Ē could be heard from the crowd.
As soon as the band started playing the audience was in a trance. The organic texture of the music was evidence of the bandís synergy after playing together for 12 years.
Hemphillís soulful vocals carried the lyrics as the bass and drums moved the crowd. A saxophone and trumpet helped flesh out the music, adding another level of intricacy to the sound.
The crowd was chanting the words to every song played. Along with songs off of ďBorn in Babylon,Ē SOJA played classics such as ďCanít Tell Me,Ē ďYou Donít Know MeĒ and ďTrue Love.Ē
Despite the large crowd, the show was intimate as the band steered from their set list to improvise in between songs. SOJA took some song requests from fans, a rare occurrence for live shows.
Brownell said he hopes the audience leaves SOJAís shows with a new attitude about something theyíve been contemplating recently and having had a good time.
ďA lot of times when you have a moment at a show it comes from when people find inspiration in songs that help them realize how to make their lives better and to not take for granted whatís already in their life,Ē Brownell said.
Even by SOJAís standards, this show was powerful.
ďThat was the best show Iíve seem them play so far out of all the ones Iíve been to!Ē Miller said.
Tune in to SOJAís music here.
See full article here: http://cuindependent.com/2009/09/17/soja-show-strikes-symphonic-gold/