Rocker T Biography
Brooklyn native Rocker-T has been guided by a higher power and life experience to vocalize the messages of peace, love and equality worldwide. He is a promoter of truth and rights through music. His array of musical knowledge and the spiritual teachings he’s acquired throughout life have enabled him to not only blaze trails in many genres, but to create a unique voice which touches spirits around the world from all walks of life.
At the tender age of three, Toby Petter Herskind Sorensen began learning songs and singing in the church choir. He was trained to play the piano and sing by his mother who encouraged him to master the classics. Knowing he wanted to be a performer at an early age, he eagerly watched the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. in the movies. His love of The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix inspired him to write songs and study the guitar. When he first watched Joan Baez’s performance in the Woodstock movie (a poignant moment that would come full circle many years later) the cornerstone of the construction of the emcee/singer/songwriter to be named "Rocker-T" was placed.
During junior high school, he became influenced by U2, Earth, Wind & Fire, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Devo. He also got heavily into the Ska, Punk and New Wave sound. At the same time, rap music was emerging in New York and groups such as Run DMC, BDP, and Eric B and Rakim really took hold of his ears. Rocker-T’s name is inspired by his need to rock out and by the name of his favorite rapper of the day, T La Rock. During these days, he also heard Bob Marley and the Wailers for the first time, and this would become another brick in the construction of his musical career. While in high school, he formed his own rock, new wave, and punk bands, all of which were met with much acclaim by students and faculty alike. It was these bands that transformed into the wildly popular and notable Ska-Reggae fusion band The Ska-Danks.
By 1989, The Ska-Danks had mutated into an underground Dancehall-Reggae-HipHop phenomenon. He then formed Jah Warrior Shelter Hi-Fidelity Sound System and became lyrical partners with Jamalski. Rocker-T and Jamalski were now on the scene and well known in the underground in New York, even singing at Heavy D’s birthday party organized by KRS-One, Ms. Melody and DJ Kid Capri. In 1991, Skadanks were signed by KRS-One to Edutainer/Elektra Records and KRS-One produced a Rocker-T lyric called “Whole World African,” which blew up and was Rocker-T’s first official entrance into the music industry. In 1994, Skadanks released their first album "Give Thanks" on Elektra records elevating their already significant popularity. They had started the first reggae night at the world-famous Wetlands Preserve, a club boasting regular artists like George Clinton, Spin Doctors, Burning Spear and Toots and the Maytals. Including deejaying, hosting and performing, Rocker-T has the most total appearances of any other artist in the history of the Wetlands. Jah Warrior Shelter Hi-Fi was now also hosting parties at the Lion’s Den in Greenwich Village, which became the hottest party in town from 1994-1996.
Rocker-T’s musical tastes and styles continued to evolve and in 1995, he headed to the west coast to join Jah Levi and the Higher Reasoning, and toured extensively from Seattle to Santa Cruz. He also travelled to Jamaica where he performed at the Portmore Entertainment Center opening for Jr. Cat and Capleton. During this time he was initiated by Elder Lidj Ras Menelik Da Costa and Rastafari Elder Ras Pidow into the true and living science of Word, Sound & Power and Nyabinghi chanting and drumming. By now, Rocker-T had been getting deeper into his consciousness and began the study of tantric and daoist practices such as yoga and kung-fu. This deeper spiritual lifestyle began to take precedence in his life and dominate his lyrics. In this same year, he was asked to be one of the main front men for the newly-formed and presently renowned Cannabis Cup Band and played the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup for the first of eleven times. Notably, he backed and sang with Rita Marley for Bob Marley's induction into the Cannabis Hall of Fame, and opened for Spearhead, Culture and Andrew Tosh. He ultimately became the DJ Coordinator for the entire event and organized shows involving local deejays and artists like Jamalski, Luciano, Kymani Marley and Bushman.
In 1996, Rocker-T and Skadanks parted ways and in 1997 he returned to New York to team up with long-time Ska-Scene brethrens King Django of the Stubborn All-Stars and Agent Jay of the Slackers and Crazy Baldhead. That same year he produced and released his first solo album “Nicer by the Hour” with Agent Jay and Victor Rice for Stubborn Records. He continued to record many singles for King Django including “Fiya Bunn Roam” and "Dread Inna Mi Heart". These singles announced the “re-awakening” of Rocker-T. The NYC Rocksteady scene was in full swing and he formed the International Rastafarian Transport (IRT) Band which performed constantly around the scene in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.
When San Francisco based producer Steffen Franz a.k.a. Stand Out Selector invited him to move out west, he recorded tracks for Franz's Positive Sound Massive label. The first product was the release of four tunes, "Tru Freedom Fighters" and "War Pan Pause" which featured Rocker's storm-the-mic days partner Jamalski, along with "Jah Everlasting” and the original "Tru Ganjaman," which is still a huge hit and fan favorite. In 1998, PSM released the "Tru Ganjaman" remix and the full length LP "If Yu Luv Luv, Show Ya Luv". These records are pure Rocker-T classics among his many fans, and the cover art of his "Tru Ganjaman" remix is noticeably present in a scene from the Ice Cube film "Next Friday." “Tru Ganjaman” is so popular that Rocker-T updates it every year with a new version which can only be heard at his live performances. To date, there are nearly 700,000 hits on YouTube for unofficial “Tru Ganjaman” videos, and he has recorded a new and improved version with Marlon Asher to be released sometime in 2013.
Rocker-T is an international underground sensation who is respected by many top artists of several genres, and this popularity has enabled him to tour Japan with Jamalski, Europe with the NYC Ska Mob, the West Coast several times in many forms, the US twice with the IRT Band (once with Shinehead), and in Mexico, Trinidad, and Panama. He has recorded internationally including three songs produced in Germany for Dr. Ring Ding’s album “Diggin Up Dirt” and “Sensi in the Club” recorded while living in Amsterdam, released by Owen Maigret's Conquering Lion Soundz. His West Coast tours with Jah Warrior Shelter Hi-Fi were a major influence on West Coast sound systems as they saturated the area with their authentic Jamaican style sound system.
In 2000, Rocker-T appeared at Reggae on the River, an event that was marked by the obvious excitement of the backstage staff and front row fans over his presence. It was also at Reggae on the River that Rocker-T met and established a relationship with Joan Baez, the music icon who had greatly influenced his career early on, and with whom he would later record “The Way Life Should Be” in 2009. He was clearly the local favorite when he played the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in 2001 and 2004 and has played many top venues including NYC's Central Park, CBGBs, B.B. Kings, The Fillmore, The Hollywood House of Blues, Fox Theatre in Boulder and the Melkweg in Amsterdam to name a few.
Rocker-T has maintained his youthful exuberance, energy and sound quality both onstage and off throughout his twenty seven year career through a spiritual and holistic lifestyle, and a grand love of life and music. He has been a huge influence on every music scene he has been involved in, leading the way for such artists as Matisyahu, Gentleman and Alborosie, and groups like Soja and Groundation, beginning at a time when American born artists really did not perform hip hop, roots or dancehall in a West Indian Patois. Due to his skill set he is sure to have even greater influence now and in the future. A man whose life seems to have been created for music, Rocker-T is a happy pulsating force with so much energy and love to share with the world.
Rocker-T is now the official US EmCee for Neil Perch's Zion Train and he currently performs with the Fyah Squad Band, Dubsmashers and Jah Warrior Shelter and holds solo healing and channeling ceremonies. He has spent the past nine years producing his newest album "The Hurban Warrior of Peace," due to be released in 2013 with an preluding EP entitled "From Brooklyn To Oakland" arriving December 2012.