Consider Jamaica’s music industry.
The names Byron Lee, Lee Scratch Perry, Bob Marley, and countless other males’ resonate with legacies of trailblazing contribution to the genre they are associated.
The list includes those of P.J. Patterson and Edward Seaga, two former prime ministers of the nation.
Men and music it seems, are a thing here, there and virtually everywhere.
As traditional power-brokers, their role often dominate numerous categories ranging from investment, production to performance.
Not so much.
Few are afforded the accolades showered on the gender Yohan Sebastian Bach, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were born.
When Tina Tuner rocked the stage in the 50s and 60s, it was her wife-beating, guitar strumming husband Ike who was credited for the revue they headlined.
Reasons attributed to the under-credited gender ranged from their perceived tug to marriage, pregnancy and family, domestic duty and other distractions that could impede maintenance of a prolonged career in the industry.
Not only are they discredited for having short-term bankability but often women are tagged with causing disruptions resulting with the busting up of successful groups.
Blame anyone for breaking up the Beetles and the name Yoko Ono will surface as the source of separation of the four British trendsetters.
Recently, during a virtual launch of the book “Miss Pat: My Reggae Music Journey” Patricia Chin, the Asian-Jamaican affectionately known as Miss Pat shared details of her rise to the top of the reggae music industry.
For more than 80 minutes, the former Pat Dorothy Williams candidly detailed how immigration, family, culture, hard work, perseverance and her gender factored in a career that has endured six decades.
Along with introducing a table top pictorial she verbally retraced the path she took to now being classified the ‘first lady of reggae.’
Born to biracial parents, her Chinese mother and Indian father raised her in the modest Greenwich Farm community outside Kingston.
Her ambition was to join the nursing profession but she met and married Vincent Randy Chin, a man who traversed the periphery of music repairing juke boxes for a living.
Instead of pursuing a career in nursing she pooled her talent with her husband to open a retail record store named Randy’s Records.
Located at 17 North Street in downtown Kingston, Jamaica, record buyers rallied there to buy the latest recordings.
A studio there also endeared budding talents to lease time for recordings.
“Even Johnny Nash recorded there,” Chin said.
At that time the repute of the US born Nash extended farther than Bob Marley’s ambition to promote reggae music. Signed to Epic Records, Nash recorded the international hit “I Can See Clearly.”
Of her husband’s daily routine Chin said “he worked in the studio and I worked from 9 to 7 selling music…my selling was just a commodity…I learned my craft…”
Together Vincent and Pat toiled to cement their relationship and build a business.
According to Pat, it was hard work.
Vincent emigrated in 1975 and two years later with two teenaged sons and a 12-year-old, Pat united the family.
In time they combined the first letters of their names to create VP Records.
Moving to New York was a challenge but the diversity of her new home did not prove intimidating.
“My aunt had married out of the culture by marrying a Black American in 1958” and “Out Of Many One” the motto of her birth island she said she was secure she could succeed here.
When her partner died in 2003, Pat continued her music journey, staying on the road to music and at 84 years old stands taller than her 4 feet 11 inches at the pinnacle of success, a trailblazer and pioneer of Jamaica’s foremost music form.
She is the mother of four, grandmother of 12 and great grandma to three.
The survivor of the VP union detailed some of the roadblocks that forced the couple to emigrate from Kingston, to Jamaica Ave. in Jamaica, Queens in New York.
The fact they acquired distribution rights for Beenie Man, Bounty Killa, Sean Paul, Lady Saw, Beres Hammond, Shaggy and a long list of reggae super-achievers is no secret.
They also boast a reputation of being the largest distributor of reggae in the world, and stake a claim of being “Miles Ahead” in reggae music.
Pre-recorded shout outs interspersed kudos from Ralph Mc Daniels, Video Jukebox host, Yokohama, Japan’s premier dancehall deejays, The Mighty Crown, grandson Kyle, granddaughter Kayla, Hammond, and others.
Throughout the YouTube broadcast Chin repeatedly acknowledged individuals who she said helped her along her journey. She thanked Christopher Issa who she said generously added a quote endorsing the book. She said the family ties proved to ‘come full circle.’
It was his grandfather who hired her husband in Jamaica when he first embarked on a musical journey.
She extolled the generosity of Toots Hibbert who died last year. Allegedly the founder of Toots & The Maytals donated a guitar from his collection to benefit the VP initiatives. Mostly Chin expressed gratitude for the love of her culture, country and family.
She said her most memorable moment was accepting the Order of Distinction from the government of Jamaica. “I was proud and happy and will never forget.”
She said the honor is indelible and one she will always treasure.
At age 84, Chin said her journey continues with family members assisting her along the way.
Accompanying her are “Chris who was selling patties in Jamaica,” Randy who left his career in California as an aeronautic engineer; a daughter does distribution from Florida; granddaughter Stephanie does artwork and another offspring who specializes in IT and social media.
Together they enabled the recent launch of the Vincent & Pat Chin Foundation, a charitable creation they collaborated to aid in uplifting and preserving Caribbean culture. Chin said the family is committed to the youth, and advancing education and the arts. Part of the proceeds will ensure its viability.
Catch You On The Inside!