Reggae band SOJA can become the first American act to win the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album at this evening’s ceremony in Los Angeles.

The eight-member outfit earned a first Grammy nomination with their sixth album, Amid the Noise and the Haste.

They performed in Jamaica for the first time at last week’s Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Trelawny.

The album is produced by Jamaican Dwayne ‘Supa Dups’ Chin-Quee. It features guest appearances from Damian Marley, J Boog, Collie Buddz and Michael Franti.

“We’re honoured to be nominated. Reggae music is our lives, and the Grammys are voted by musicians alone, so to tell us that what we’ve chosen to do with our lives is worthwhile in the eyes of our musical peers, it’s a huge deal,” Jacob Hemphill, SOJA lead vocalist and guitarist, told the Sunday Observer.

Commenting on the group’s Jamaican debut, Hemphill said: “Jamaica was incredible. I walked out of the airport and a guy walked up and said ‘so, you’re the white Bob Marley, huh’. I, of course, am not, but what a cool thing. The whole weekend went like that. It was incredible to feel those vibes.”

Amid the Noise and the Haste debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Album chart and number 20 on the Billboard 200 Album chart in August, with first-week sales of over 12,000 copies. To date, it has sold over 30,000 copies.

Since it was instituted in 1985, the Best Reggae Album category (formerly known as Best Reggae Recording) has been won once by a non-Jamaican act. British reggae band Steel Pulse won in 1987 for Babylon the Bandit.

Only two other American acts have been nominated in the category. Jewish reggae artiste Matisyahu was nominated in 2007 for the album Youth, while rapper Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg) was called last year for Reincarnated.

The 57th annual Grammy Awards takes place at Staples Centre. Other nominees in the Best Reggae Album category are Sly & Robbie featuring Spicy Chocolate (The Reggae Power); Ziggy Marley (Fly Rasta); Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (Back on The Controls); Sean Paul (Full Frequency); and Shaggy (Out of Many, One Music ).
JamaicaObserver