She’s a reggae music trailblazer.
The purveyor of the Queens-based record store and independent music label VP Records Patricia Chin, has been a forerunner in helping drive reggae and dancehall music into the international scene. Her contributions were recently celebrated at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles earlier this month, and by Medgar Evers College, where she received their Pinnacle Award. The 80-year-old music enthusiast shared her gratitude for the recognitions.
“I feel very blessed and honored that people are seeing some of the things I’ve achieved and what I’ve done for the last 60 years — I really feel good about it,” said Chin.
She said she loved what the college was doing in regards to the Caribbean community and was thrilled to be a part of that.
“I didn’t know too much about the college but now I see what programs it offers and how the college really reaches out to minorities to help them and I was very inspired. The college is very much supportive of the Caribbean culture and that’s why I accepted my award.”
Chin co-founded the label with her late husband Victor Chin as a small record shop in Kingston, Jamaica. Together they created a store for Jamaican artists to record and put out disks.
“The neighborhood we were in had many people who just wanted to sing or had frustrations that they wanted to sing about, and we were happy to create an avenue for them to get it out there,” said Chin. “It was always full with many artists but we started very small in an eight by 10 room.”
But despite the humble beginnings, VP Records would grow into a big distributor of Jamaican music records. And many big artists such as Beenie Man, Augustus Pablo, and Shaggy recorded some of their first records at their studios.
When the Chins brought their record store to the states, they set up shop in Queens hoping to spread their brand. They encountered some struggles here and there, but maintained their level of branding to eventually become a mainstay.
And she is a certified expert in the genres. Even if someone cannot recall a specific song title or artist, Chin can recognize what it is just by hearing a simple rhythm.
“Even if you don’t know a name, just hum it and I can tell you. I can do this for every singer,” she said.
She recalls her love for music when she fell in love with her husband and continues to cherish the art form.
“I love Dennis Brown, Roots Reggae, Sizzla, Augustus Pablo. I have a wide selection of Pablo. Music is the most powerful tool that really speaks and brings people together. It just makes you feel so good — you can feel depressed but you dance, you can forget about your problems, unwind, and dance out your frustrations.”
VP Records has locations in Miami, Florida as well and continues to distribute records all around the world.