by Howard Campbell
[NEW YORK] – Serving at the counter of any business, one is likely to get first-hand knowledge of that venture. Which is exactly what happened to Patricia Chin, matriarch of the successful VP Records.
She tells her story in Miss Pat — My Reggae Music Journey, which is due for release on March 20 by VP Music. It is available on pre-release.
Chin started writing the book four years ago, determined to share her 60 years in the music business. That started beside her husband Randy in 1958 when they launched the Randy’s record store and label in downtown Kingston, Jamaica.
Leaving A Legacy
Overtime, her memoirs became even more personal.
“I wanted to leave a legacy for my grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future generations, because in the past our fore-parents didn’t leave anything to show why they came to this little island called Jamaica and how life was tough for them. They didn’t share their history and why left China and India, so I wanted to have as a record for my great-grandkids can see who I am and what I did,” she explained.
Her parents were first generation Jamaicans. Father Joseph Williams’ was the son of Indian immigrants while her mother Ida Chin’s parents were from China. Pat Chin was born in Greenwich Town, a seafaring community in Kingston.
‘My Reggae Music Journey’ has over 200 pages and more than 100 photographs covering her years at Randy’s and VP Records, the company she and Vincent started shortly after moving to Queens, New York in the late 1970s.
Both ventures have made their mark in the annals of reggae. Randy’s was the hotspot for top Ska, rock steady and reggae acts such as Lord Creator, Derrick Morgan, The Skatalites, Jimmy London, Errol Dunkley and Augustus Pablo. In the 1970s, many top artistes recorded at the Randy’s studio including Burning Spear, who cut his seminal Marcus Garvey album there.
A Family Affair
At VP, the Chins adopted the same hands-on approach to an evolving industry. In time, their sons Chris and Randy, and daughter Angela joined the company which is the largest distributor of reggae in the world.
Just about every major dancehall/reggae artist has recorded for VP which also has offices in Miramar and Kingston. Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Buju Banton and Sean Paul are just some of the names that dot the company’s vast catalog.
Patricia Chin lost her husband in 2003 but has soldiered on to see the company they started become a powerhouse that celebrated its 40th anniversary two years ago. That resilience, she notes, makes her story a compelling read.
“They know me as a business-person but I don’t think the public knows who I am, not the struggles and joys I went through. They call it a woman in a man’s job but I didn’t know what that meant, not until I came to America, because in Jamaica we just consider it work,” she said.