Saturday, January 18, 2014

FLASHBACK: The Reggae Craze Of Patra “The Dancehall Queen


A DJ, singer and hopeful actor widely hyped as the female equivalent of Shabba Ranks. She was a vocalist of strong maturity and sophistication. Her charismatic performance has lit up stages and screens around the world. She is the diva known throughout the world as Patra but born Dorothy Smith.
Mixing 90s pop/R&B with the dancehall reggae of her native Jamaica, Patra debuted in 1993 with the album “Queen of the Pack”.  Signed to Epic's 550 Music subsidiary, Patra who took her stage name from a shortened version of Cleopatra, released Scent of Attraction two years later. The lady superstar grabbed the attention of the U.S. audience. Prior to this time, she already had a large following within the reggae community but translating that into mainland success was not an easy task.
However, her rare genre of the perfect blend of provocative lyrics and exotic beauty forced the American audience to give a listening ear to her rocking sound as they were true to their Jamaican roots.
Consequently, the subsequent three singles from Patra; "queen of the pack", worker man" and "romantic call" featuring rapper Yo-yo hit the top ten on music networks such as the box. During the two years that followed, Patra was recognized for her talent by organizations such as the Caribbean Music Awards, the International Reggae Awards and the Reggae Music Awards, earning her titles such as best female artist, best female Dj and best song. By the time the album had run its course, it had enjoyed thirteen weeks at number one on billboard's reggae chart, garnering it the distinction of having held the position longer than any other album to precede it.
It was then that Patra was named the first international queen of dancehall music by Vanity Fair Magazine. Needless to say, the success of her debut effort resulted in gold sales and continued requests for collaboration by other artists. In 1995, Patra joined with a veritable army of divas like Angie Stone, Lalah Hathaway, Tracie Spencer, Mary J. Blige, Vanessa Williams, TLC, etc. to record the hard-hitting anthem "Freedom", which featured both r&b and rap versions; for the panther soundtrack.
That same year, Patra released her sophomore album, “scent of attraction”, which featured a samba remake of disco diva Grace Jone's classic "pull up to the bumper", as well as duets with Aaron Hall on "scent of attraction" and Salt-N-Pepa on the track "hot stuff". Though “scent of attraction” may not have gained the same level of attention as “queen of the pack”, it is a strong album that is strengthened but not encumbered by traditional reggae rhythms.
Just like celebrated female artistes before her like Tina Turner, Queen Latifah and Vanessa Mae; Patra contributed greatly to breaking down the gender barriers that, to this day, inhibit women from entering into and excelling in certain genres of music. Her vast talent complimented by a sexual frankness uncommon to a world artist, have allowed her to achieve what few women in her genre couldn’t achieve. As such, she still reigns as the queen of dancehall and reggae in the world.

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