Dave Matthews is understandably fond of Soldiers of Jah Army, or SOJA as they’ve been acronymed. The Arlington, Va., quintet has a similar grass roots success story, after all. SOJA has opened for Matthews on numerous occasions and he was so enamored by the Reggae/Jam outfit’s sound and vision that he signed them to his ATO label for the crew’s just-released fourth album, Strength to Survive.
With its first three albums, SOJA amassed a fervent fan base through constant touring, internet marketing and Grateful Dead-like word-of-mouth campaigns, all of which ultimately led to over 150,000 units sold, 500,000 Facebook friends, 20 million (yes, million) YouTube views and concerts performed in 15 different countries across the globe.
SOJA’s roots go back to vocalist/guitarist Jacob Hemphill and bassist Bobby Lee meeting in first grade (Hemphill’s family had just returned from Africa, where his father had done contracting work). The two friends began playing music in high school and assembled the band that would ultimately become SOJA.
Hemphill claims any number of disparate influences on the sound and philosophy of SOJA, but he hails Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Survival as the greatest Reggae album ever made. That assertion is solidly supported by the social, cultural and political messages (particularly the call for healing and unity in a divided world) and raging Reggae energy generated on Strength to Survive. SOJA wants to be an element of global change and they want you to rise up and join the fight.
SOJA plays Friday, Feb. 16 at the 20th Century Theater with guests THE MOVEMENT and KIDS THESE DAYS. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.