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Pat Chin
Photograph: Courtesy Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere

Ms. Pat, founder of VP Records, is ready to talk about her journey

“I’ve been in business over 60 years and I’m still going.”

By
Will Gleason
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Ms. Pat (Patricia Chin) is a pioneer in the music industry. As the founder of the Queens-based reggae label VP Records, she helped launch the careers of artists including Elephant Man, Estelle, Junior Reid, Raging Fyah and more. She’s also a woman who made her mark on the industry long before that was as common as it is today.

For all those reasons, the fascinating New Yorker will be highlighted in tonight’s free live-streamed event from Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere, part of their monthlong series of virtual Women’s History Month events being presented in association with Time Out New York. Beginning at 7pm, Chin will be in conversation with journalist Catalina Maria Johnson about her life’s work and her upcoming autobiography, Miss Pat — My Reggae Music Journey.

“I’ve been in business over 60 years and I’m still going,” Chin tells Time Out New York. “I wanted to write this autobiography based on all the experience that I’ve gained. I wanted to talk about my journey and my relationship with my late husband and my arrival in New York in the late ‘70s and the founding of VP Records.”

The New York that Chin arrived in in the ‘70s looked a lot different than the city we know today. “it was a lot of big department stores and the train was running over ahead,” she says. Over the years, a lot of that has changed and there are more mom-and-pop stores. My husband chose Jamaica, Queens because it reminded us of back home. He said, ‘Don’t worry, Pat. We’ll have a lot of Caribbean people leaving here.’ Queens is a great area because of its diversity.”

After tonight’s conversation, SummerStage will also broadcast excerpts of VP Records’ 40th-anniversary concert in Central Park which was originally held in 2019. “It gave me so much joy to see people united and see them enjoying the reggae,” she says about the event. “The rain started to fall but it didn’t stop people from dancing and joining the music. It really told our story from the late ‘50s up until now.

As far as being part of March's lineup of Women’s History Month events, Chin says what gives here most joy is seeing women stepping up to the plate across the reggae world, not just as background singers but holding the spotlight in their own right. She also says she’s always thought of her role in the industry as just a job rather than a man’s one.

“I worked behind the counter in Jamaica for 20 years and I learned a lot,” she says. “I went to work every day except when I was having my kids. They said I was doing a man’s job but I just felt like I was doing a job. Sometimes, callers to the record store would ask to put a man on the phone because they didn’t think I would know what they would want, but I was like a walking encyclopedia behind that counter. I listened to music playing in that store Monday through Friday every day for 20 years. So I learned a lot.”

You can watch tonight’s live stream conversation on SummerStageAnywhere.org and all of SummerStage’s social channels.

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