Patra returns to dancehall with a “Tender Touch”

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Patra returns to dancehall with a “Tender Touch”

Story courtesy Overtime TT
Dancehall legend and the self-proclaimed “Queen of the pack is back and released a brand new track on Friday March 22nd, called “Tender Touch” – or, as Dorothy “Patra” Smith prefers to say it: she is now “unpaused and continuing on” with her great works.

Fans of 90s dancehall music and culture would be familiar with the “Romantic Call” singer, who burst onto the scene as a teenager full of spicy and often raunchy lyrics, backed with the confident rapid-fire delivery of a female Busta Rhymes.

In a Zoom interview with Overtime Media this week, Patra said she never left the music business, but just took time off to organise her personal, professional, mental and spiritual affairs.

“I took some time away in order to make sure that I’m in control of, you know, my sanity for starters and to make sure that I’m in control of everything that I’m doing and I’m happy I did it because now I’ve grown so much and matured and I definitely didn’t think it was going to take this long. However, I have no regrets because now I’m in control…

“So the queen is continuing. I hate to say um you know, the queen is back or something like that. I like to just say it’s a continuation because, you know, my fans have always been there with me and I know they will be happy with all the things that I’ve managed to be in control of, not just myself, but my business, my music and most importantly, I’m much more much here and smarter, my voice has grown and developed, you know? So, my fans will always love something like that.”

Following her first independent release, “Hardcore” in 1993, Patra caught the ears of executives at Epic Records, who picked up the single and signed her to the label. With label executive Vivian Scott-Chew overseeing production, Patra set forth in cutting a Dancehall-flavored remake of the 1970’s Funk classic, “Think” – which became the Dancehall queen’s first Top 40 R&B Hit.

“It was Vivian who introduced me to Funk and Soul music”, says Patra, “especially the late Lyn
Collins, who recorded the original version of “Think”, which was written by The Godfather of Soul, James Brown. It was very exciting to record the song and make the video with Ms. Collins. I have Vivian to thank for that.”

“Worker Man” followed up “Think” as Patra’s next single and quickly showed another side of the artist. Besides her rap skills, fans got to hear Patra’s sweet singing voice.

“That was my first number one hit!” She enthused. “It was originally recorded by Tony Kelly but when the song was presented to me, we (Vivian Scott-Chew and I) took it to another level by giving “Worker Man” a Hip-Hop flavor. This is one of my biggest songs.”

Then came the third single from Patra’s debut album, Queen of the Pack, “Romantic Call” – which featured US female rapper, “Yo-Yo” handling the rapping with Patra on the song, as well as a special cameo in the video by the late great Tupac Shakur.

“Making the video for ’Romantic Call’ was crazy!” exclaimed Patra. “Tupac came by the trailer to visit and it was a big surprise. It was a great time we had – Yo-Yo and I riding around making the video, Tupac being in many scenes. That song and video drew many Hip-Hop and Rap fans – thanks to Yo-Yo and Tupac. I greatly appreciate them as well as those who worked behind the scenes to make ‘Romantic Call’ happen”.

All the preceding tunes (songs) were included on Patra’s debut album on Epic Records entitled, “Queen of the Pack”, which subsequently peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Reggae Albums chart for thirteen consecutive weeks (the longest Reggae release to remain at the top in the history of the chart). The Queen of the Pack album has since achieved multiplatinum success worldwide.

However, in a surprising move, the Westmoreland-raised talent suddenly disappeared from the limelight at the height of her success and acclaim and was not seen or heard from until DJ Cassidy plucked her from her reclusion after the pandemic ended in 2022.

“My agents Judith Bodley and Sharon Burke came to me to tell me that DJ Cassidy was looking for me because they’re doing this, um, old school segment. So, Super Cat, Barrington Levy and everybody was gonna be on it. That was like a no-brainer, so I did that and while doing that, I ended up doing another big project which you guys will be hearing about soon – this is one of the biggest things of my career which was done and I was performing in New York At the Barclays Center. Me, Barrington Levy, Shabba ranks, Capleton you know all these guys and then while I was in New York, BET reached out to my team and they said to me that they want Patra for the BET Music Award but they don’t want anybody to know it. So it’s like a surprise. So I was like, okay, not a problem. It all seemed like perfect timing because I’m coming back out and we’re ready to go.”

Shouting out her many Trini friends like 2Ntrigue, Smith revealed she’s eager to visit T&T again having not seen our shores (other than short stints in transit) since the late 90s.

“I know that my fans in Trinidad love me. But more importantly, I know the people love dancehall and they love Reggae just like we love the Soca and the culture and the vibes. When I was going to Trinidad, I was so hyped up to go there, you know, because of the whole Carnival and the rum and the parties and the people. Oh my gosh, you guys don’t sleep, man.

“And I remember when I got there, I asked for a chicken – because I always like to cook when I’m on the road and stuff, and I sent someone to get me a chicken because I wanted to cook the chicken in Trinidad, and I was in my hotel room and they brought the chicken to me. But what they did was bring it with the head and feet and feathers and everything, lols, and that was unexpected, to be honest. So what we did? We just go ahead and cook it up same way yes – I’ll never forget that!”

Those who remember this 90s Dancehall Queen will surely never forget and for those just hearing about her, check back in your pack and see who was the real queen of the dancehall.