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Friday, April 30, 2010

Jamaica-based label poised for big haul at reggae awards

A local record label is poised to clean up at Sunday's 29th International Reggae & World Music Awards in Queens.
Artists signed to Jamaica-based VPRecords have been nominated for a stunning 27 awards at the Caribbean music equivalent to the Grammys. VP nominees include performers like Sean Paul, Queen Ifrica and Tarrus Riley.
"We love to use music as a tool to bring people together," said VP co-founder Patricia Chin. "We bring the [island] culture and the music to America."
Music insiders said VP is one of the most important reggae music labels in the world - and possibly the most influential.
That clout, combined with a large Caribbean and West Indies population, has helped to make southeastern Queens a center of the island music scene.
"VP Records are one of the ethnic labels that are constantly trying to promote reggae," said Anthony Turner, a spokesman for the reggae awards show. "They're like the bridge between the ethnic label and the mainstream label."
And he's seeing the popularity of reggae artists grow, he said.

Thousands of people are expected to turn up for this year's awards gala, to be held at York College in Jamaica for the second year in a row, Turner said.
Bobby Clarke, president and CEO of Jamaica, Queens-based Irie Jam Media Group Inc., which operates reggae radio stations 93.5 FM and 87.7 FM, is pleased that the awards show is to be held locally.
"Jamaica, Queens, is a hotbed of reggae and Caribbean music," he said. He attributes that to VP's success.
"Single-handedly, they've energized the industry," he said. "Most reggae acts in some point in their career found their songs on a VP label."
The label's artists won 10 awards at last year's gala, a VP spokesman said.
Chin started VP with her late husband, Vincent Randy Chin, in 1958 in Kingston, Jamaica. They moved the business to the U.S. about 20 years later.
Now the local label works with international artists and has offices in Great Britain, Japan, Florida and the island of Jamaica.
Chin even launched an island-themed men's clothing line called Ridden Driven about three years ago. She plans to unveil a women's line next year.
"Queens has been the birthplace for a lot of American jazz artists," Chin said. "We're trying to make it be the spot for [Caribbean] music and entertainment."
Tickets to the International Reggae and World Music Awards start at $49 and can be purchased at


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