Artist to Know: Sojourner

By Natalie Dupuis, June 22, 2015

Joseph Sojourner wears many hats. He’s the former creative director of BigStuf summer camps; former high school ministry director at Browns Bridge Community Church in Cumming, Georgia; emcee for Catalyst, Orange and Drive conferences; musician; entrepreneur; rapper; and ‘round-the-clock creative.

Sojourner, 32, released “Fight Club” in March as the second album on his newly established Atlanta-based label Opposite Entertainment. His fresh approach to this album—conceptualizing the music, message and effect he wanted to have on people before stepping foot in the studio—had Sojourner calling on his friends and colleagues. “I truly believe creativity is best in community,” he says. “I love message-based art, and having that message at the forefront holds all the collaboration together. That’s what made this project different.”

While Sojourner’s originality manifests itself in a variety of ways, music has been a constant since his early years in Akron, Ohio. “My mom loved music. She always played Stevie Wonder. She was a teacher but wrote a lot of poetry, so she would always speak Stevie’s lyrics,” says Sojourner. “That’s where I really saw how beautiful words could be.”

He credits artists like Jay-Z and Tupac for influencing his music as a student in the ’90s, when hip-hop culture was truly taking off. “I felt there were no boundaries to what they did with words—the metaphors, how they could pull annunciation—it was fascinating to me,” he says.

But when Sojourner was introduced to Christian rap, he realized there was a way to engage with his friends while remaining true to his beliefs. He credits the men of Reach Records—Lecrae, Tedashii and Trip Lee—for that. “It was the first label where I felt like we got each other,” he says. “They had me realizing we can impact culture with the art we make.”

Sojourner sees his music as a part of a larger trend in the church, which is engaging with those outside of the church on new terms. “I love Sunday morning, but I don’t lose sight of Friday and Saturday nights, and that’s where I think hip-hop goes really well with culture,” he says. “I think rap is another form of creativity, and of the gifts that God has placed in me. It’s my most natural form of ministry—to create songs that impact people.”

“Fight Club” took Sojourner to Dubai in early June. Now, he’s in Florida for BigStuf camps, where he’ll perform and encourage kids to be bold in their faith and take that message back to their schools and communities. It’s one that’s sure to resonate with youth around the country.

“At BigStuf, we get to incorporate [the music] into every week of camp and charge each group of kids with rebranding Christianity. To fight and say, ‘we’re not who you think we are as Christians. We are forgiving, understanding and want to walk alongside you in love.’”

Follow us on Spotify and give Sojourner’s latest album a listen. 

 

Photo credit: Brayden Heath

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