The eager crowd did not mind the hours of waiting, standing or sitting on the floor as local artists belted out lively renditions of Palauan songs. I squatted on the floor below the stage with others, unaware (until later) that the entire middle floor has turned into a huge dance floor, with everybody dancing and swaying in anticipation of the appearance of the night’s main performers- the Soldiers Of Jah Army (SOJA) reggae band.
The curtains opened and the shouts rose to a deafening crescendo when lead singers Jacob Hemphill (guitar) and Bob Jefferson (bass) trotted on stage for their opening number, to the accompaniment of Patrick O’Shea on keyboard, percussionist Ken Brownell, and drummer Ryan Berty.
The cheer of the crowd was deafening. Seats were abandoned as everyone stood up to join the jostling crowd and let go of all the cares as they lost themselves to the wonderful world of reggae.
For an island who rarely get the opportunity to see live concerts, the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center was literally jampacked with teenagers, kids and adults who stomped their feet, clapped and swayed to the beat of the drums as the band sent a message to the listeners through their songs.
SOJA’s music includes and embraces all walks of life - it has no prejudice – it is for everyone. The band is embarking on a journey around the world promoting their latest album “Get Wiser” and Palau is fortunate to be included among the stopovers.
From Palau, SOJA has a series of shows scheduled in Guam, Saipan, California and other places. For more information, visit their website at www.sojamusic.com
The two-night live concert was the first alcohol-free event by GenNOW and co-sponsored by the Palau Royal Resort, Oceania Television Network and Koror State Government youth division.