b. Dorothy Smith, 22 November 1972, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. A DJ, singer and hopeful actor widely touted/hyped as the female equivalent of Shabba Ranks, Patra (formerly Lady Patra) signed to the same management, under the aegis of Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon, in 1989. She also shares the same record company, Epic. Accordingly, with the new, commercial expectations placed on her shoulders, her material has moved from strict dancehall to include smooth love songs. Patra was brought up singing in churches in Westmoreland, where she moved from Kingston at an early age. Her ambition as a child was always evident, and she soon entered neighbourhood singing/DJing competitions in high school. Early supporters, who included Major Mackerel, encouraged her to return to Kingston and try her luck in the studios. Gussie Clarke was the first to 'voice' her after she had been declined by several others. Such rejections were only a short-term problem, however. Following the sessions with Clarke she found herself in demand by Shocking Vibes, Exterminator and several others. Sides like 'Holler Fe The Wok', Visa Hole', 'Man Me Love' and 'Worky Worky' showcased her considerable talents. On the back of this moderate success she played her first major show at the Sting '88 celebrations. By the time the deal with Epic was struck, Patra's singing voice had taken precedence over her DJ skills, as highlighted by the single 'Sweet Memories', the first product of new sessions (though it was actually released by Tachyon's Sonny Ochai). Curiously, it rose to number 1 in the Japanese reggae charts, but Epic will surely demand more concrete domestic success in return for their investment.
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A dynamic DJ inna Kingston stylee. A vocalist of increasing maturity and sophistication. A charismatic performer who has lit up stages and screens around the world. Patra is all these things and more--as she proves so expertly on a new Sony 550 Music album, SCENT OF ATTRACTION.
The follow-up to the certified-gold Epic Records Group debut Queen Of The Pack, Scent Of Attraction features the premier single and video "Pull Up To The Bumper," the Grace Jones club classic. "I did 'Pull Up To The Bumper' because it's a sexy song and I think it matches my image," says Patra. "Also, Grace Jones is a Jamaican woman and someone who I personally admire a lot. I changed a lot of the lyrics in the song and added my little Jamaican spice to it."
Other Scent Of Attraction highlights include "Goin To The Chapel," an impassioned song of romance based on a sample of Sades "Sweetest Taboo"; the title cut "Scent Of Attraction," a potent vocal duet by Patra and Aaron Hall; "You Want It," another soulful duet track, this one featuring Jamaicas rising star Prince Mydas; and "Time Fi Wine," a classic Patra "toast" propelled by kicking drums and dreamy keyboards. Last but not least, fans surely wont sleep on "Hot Stuff, " a steamy collaboration between Patra and Salt N Pepa.
"This album means a lot to me because my voice has changed, I'm more mature, and I'm more comfortable with what I'm doing," Patra explains. "I'm singing more, and this style that I'm coming out with now is more mature because I'm a little bit older--even sexier!"
THE STORY SO FAR
Patra was born Dorothy Smith in Kingston, JA and raised in Westmoreland Parish. In a 1994 essay, Patra wrote: "I am a country girl. I grew up in the church, which instilled morals and values in me. I was raised by my mom along with my four brothers--I am the second child. My father died when I was three, so my mother has been my example of a very strong Black woman, and I know that I have her strength."
Patra first began singing in her church choir and later tried her hand at deejaying. At age 15, she began to realize that music really could be her life. "I always enjoyed music, but up until then I didn't really think about my goals," Patra explains. "In addition to many Jamaican artists, I listened to Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Sade and Alexander O'Neal. And Michael Jackson, of course--he really taught me how to dance!"
Patra first made her mark in the U.S. with two notable guest appearances, duetting with Mad Cobra on a track called "Really Do It" and adding her wicked ragga-rap to Richie Stevens "Body Slam." But the American audience got its first taste of Patra's true gifts with the Epic Records Group re-lease of her underground 12-inch single "Hardcore." In October, 1993 came the debut album Queen Of The Pack, and the single and video "Think (About It)"--which teamed Patra with Lyn Collins and the P-Funk Horns for a dynamic dancehall update of Lyns 1972 Top Ten R&B smash.
Each of Patras next three videos--"Queen Of The Pack," "Worker Man," and "Romantic Call" (featuring Yo-Yo)-- became a Top 10 favorite on The Box. At the 5th Annual Caribbean Music Awards (held March, `94 at the Apollo Theater in New York), Patra was named Best Female Artist for "Worker Man." At the 13th Annual International Reggae Awards in Chicago, she walked away with Best Female DJ and Best Crossover Song (for "Family Affair," from the Addams Family soundtrack). In Canadas Reggae Music Awards, Patra was again named Best Female DJ.
By July, 1994 Patras Queen Of The Pack had spent 13 consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboards Top Reggae Albums chart--the longest run at #1 in the history of the chart. The following December, the album was certified gold for sales of more than 500,000 copies. In addition to her own album, Patra embarked on successful collaborations with C&C Music Factory ("Take A Toke") and Gurus Jazzmatazz II set ("Young Ladies"), as well as joining in the all-female superstar recording "Freedom" for the soundtrack of Melvin Van Peebles film Panther.
"Jamaican dancehall music has its first international queen of the genre," wrote Vanity Fair, "and her name is Patra!" In 1995, she rules once more with Scent Of Attraction.
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