Miss Pat’s journey
STANDING a diminutive four feet, 11 inches, Pat Chin is a pioneer in Jamaican music whose giant strides over 64 years have helped make reggae a global brand.
The co-founder of Randy’s Records and VP Records, she was in Jamaica last week promoting her book, Miss Pat: My Reggae Music Journey. Released in March 2021, the memoir has 209 pages that capture the colourful evolution of Jamaican music.
Chin, who is in her mid-80s, was a willing participant in that process, alongside her husband Vincent “Randy” Chin who died in 2003.
Last year, she did the morning television show rounds in the United States promoting the book, but the Jamaican leg is even more important to her.
“The interviews I get in America, it’s not Jamaicans. They are just music fans who want to know how the music started and why Jamaicans are so special to reggae music. I really want Jamaican young people to read the book to be educated about the music because we started from nothing,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
‘My Reggae Music Journey’ had its official Jamaican launch on August 26 at The University of the West Indies’ Mona campus. Chin donated copies of her book to the Jamaica Library Service and National Library of Jamaica, and did signings at Fontana Pharmacy, University Book Shop, and Cooyah Shop.
She also committed funding for scholarships to two students, Train Henry and Ashane Robertson, who will study music at the Alpha Institute in Kingston.
‘My Reggae Music Journey’ traces her early days in the music business as a young wife and mother. There are anecdotes about the characters who passed through Randy’s record store and studio in downtown Kingston. Chin revisits her youth in Portland, where she was born, the first of three children to a Chinese father and mother whose parents were from India.
Those are some of the reflections she wanted to pass on to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They get to read about the toil that made Randy’s — which opened in 1962; and VP, which she and Vincent launched 17 years later in New York — remarkable success stories.
Chin wants the current generation of Jamaicans to get a sense of what it took to make reggae music such an international force.
“I remember back in the 50s and early 60s we didn’t have professional instruments. I remember Lee Perry coming upstairs [to] the studio and he would bring a grater, a walking stick just to create different sounds. One of the best schools was Alpha, great musicians came from that school, and that’s part of the journey that made reggae music great,” she said.
Miss Pat: My Reggae Music Journey is co-written with Anicee Gaddis, John Masouri, Alex Lee and James Goring. The book is designed by Greek artist Maria Papaefstathiou, co-founder of the international Reggae Poster Contest.