Miss Pat of VP Records receives York College’s first Presidential Medal of Honour
Last Thursday, at the UBS stadium in Long Island, New York, a beaming Patricia ‘Miss Pat’ Chin, co-founder and president of VP Records, dressed in academic regalia, graciously accepted York College’s Presidential Medal from President Dr Berenecea Johnson Eanes. Miss Pat, a pioneer in the reggae music industry and a shining example of an immigrant success story, was the college’s first recipient of this honour.
York College is a senior college of the City University of New York. It provides students with a one-of-a-kind educational experience and offers many qualities of a major university, including a distinguished faculty and strong pre-professional programmes. In conferring the medal, Dr Eanes stated, “I am pleased to present York College’s Presidential Medal ... to Patricia Dorothy Chin, co-founder of VP Records, who hails from the island of Jamaica and calls Jamaica, Queens home.”
Traversing through the biography of VP Records from its foundation in Jamaica in the ‘50s through to the move to Jamaica, Queens, Eanes outlined the trail of excellence blazed by the largest reggae music label in the world and the outstanding achievements of matriarch Miss Pat, one of the pillars of Jamaican music.
“I spent a little time with Miss Pat over the last two months and she is a phenomenal woman,” Eanes shared.
She added, “Miss Pat is the business and her sons and all the family have done a lot for Jamaica, Queens. For her successful immigrant story, business acumen and contribution to the Jamaica Queens and Caribbean American, Chinese Jamaican communities, on behalf of York College family, I am delighted to honour [and present] – the first in my presidential history – this award to Miss Pat.”
“Blissful,” is how Miss Pat, told The Sunday Gleaner she was feeling.
In accepting the award last Thursday, the author of Miss Pat: My Reggae Music Journey said, “I am truly honoured to be the recipient of this Presidential Award. Thanks to President Eanes, faculty and staff. Thanks also to York College, a beacon of light for the education of its students ... . I want to congratulate the graduates. With my 60 years of business experience, I have been guided by these principles: I did not choose my career. I fell into my career because of my love for music and my community. Once I started my career, I worked very hard – day after day, week after week, and year after year. And I try to do things better each day to get the best results. I also learned throughout my years in the business, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help when it is needed. And never give up when you stumble. Don’t give up, because there is always a way forward with patience and hard work. You are young, so enjoy the ride and enjoy wherever your career takes you. And, if you meet a detour, like I did, don’t worry, just follow the path and still enjoy the ride.”
It was in the 1950s that Vincent and Patricia Chin started Randy’s Record Mart by reselling used records out of their shop at 36 East Street in Kingston, Jamaica. Their bio states that Vincent Chin worked for Isaac Issa, stocking new records into jukeboxes and accumulating the records he took out. These records were the springboard for what would eventually become the largest reggae record company in the world.
In 1962, the Chins moved to 17 North Parade and, within years, converted part of their new shop into a studio. From 1968, ‘Studio 17’ became one of the island’s top studios, eventually recording thousands of artistes, from Bob Marley and The Wailers to Peter Tosh, The Heptones, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, nearly all of the new genre’s top acts from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. After two decades in Kingston, Jamaica, Randy’s founders Vincent and Patricia Chin set their eyes on New York City, with its growing Jamaican community and access to the world’s largest market for recorded music. After relocating to a small shop at 170-03 Jamaica Avenue in Queens, New York in 1977 (and later to 170-21 Jamaica Avenue), the Chins continued the retail, manufacturing and distribution model developed in Kingston.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
In congratulating Miss Pat on this latest achievement, VP Records Caribbean wrote on social media, “No words needed. Congratulations, Boss Lady! Thank you for honouring our Matriarch. Class of 2022#welldone #trailblazer #likklebutshetallawa #mspat#patchin.”