Happy, happy 40th birthday to VP Records — the Caribbean-rooted mom-and-pop music store that grew into the world's largest independent recording company for reggae, dancehall and soca music, based in Jamaica, Queens.
The company — originally started as a small store in Kingston, Jamaica, by the late Vincent (Randy) Chin and his wife, Patricia Chin — will be celebrating its four decades with a yearlong list of activities in the U.S., Toronto and London.
“VP is integral to the history of reggae and dancehall music. We take this responsibility seriously and we are using our 40th anniversary to celebrate the music’s rich heritage as we steward the genre into the future,” said Randy Chin, the co-founders’ son who runs the firm with his mother and brother Christopher.
Home to some of the biggest performers in reggae, VP has boasted international stars such as Freddie McGregor, Sean Paul, Lady Saw and Beenie Man, as well as current label members Beres Hammond, Queen Ifrica , Jah Cure, Raging and Maxi Priest.
The year's birthday fete kicked off late last month with the release of the "Strictly the Best – Live Montego Bay" recording and the yearlong "A Reggae Music Journey" historical exhibit opening in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and moving to Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport in June.
The celebration turns to New York in March when the interactive digital "Reggae Trail" debuts — showing the growth of the Jamaican music industry and VP Records by highlighting immigration and historical locations throughout the five boroughs.
Other upcoming activities include "Record Store Day," VP's annual tribute to the classic vinyl recording format, on April 20; the "VP Concert Summer Series" of New York-area concerts; participation in the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival on July 20 at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, and the release of a 40th anniversary box set of hits and other historic rarities.