Brace yourself, Jamaica! Yet another zany foreigner is set to invade our shores when the bombastic entertainment personality and disc jock Patti Zagranis comes to the island next week. She retired from her ho hum nine-to-five at a US phone company - a job she held for 27 years - for the white sand beaches, jerk chicken and island living of Jamaica.
“I'm ready to come to Jamaica for music full time!” the perky reggae disc jockey said. She has been moonlighting as a “selectress” and reggae disc jock for almost 21 years now.
Over the last few years, Zagranis has clawed out a reputation as an avid reggae music lover with a vast catalogue of classic reggae hits. A bombastic, larger-than-life personality, she is best known for her ultra successful urban music radio show on a station called Caribbean Fyah 96.5FM in Boston, MA. Her show, dubbed ‘Nice Up U Medi ‘ airs in the 12 noon to 2 p.m. time slot on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“ I was the mix-tape girl in high school, making mix cassettes for all my friends, and always loved reggae... Bob, of course, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Super Cat, Shabba… I even have Beenie Man's first album on vinyl,” she boasted.
Ms. Zagranis got involved in playing music in 1991 after a Jamaican friend saw her record collection, was suitably impressed and actually got her to play at a club in Lawrence, Massachussetts, a small town about 30 miles north of Boston.
“My friend brought me down to the club and let me DJ and that was it, I absolutely loved it, so I Dj'd around Lawrence and went to Jamaica for the first time that year, then locked my hair by 1992 realizing that I was always Rastafari , and started looking for places to play,” she said.
At first, she found the experience challenging because the club owners in Boston refused to give her a chance to play, effectively shutting her out for several years. However, she persisted in the pursuit of her dream.
“ I used to drive to Brooklyn and buy records at Ethiopian Taste Records on Nostrand in Brooklyn, and then go to the Biltmore to see the big sounds like Earth Ruler, Downbeat, Stone Love. At that time, I would go to Jamaica at least 2-3 times a year and would bring my boom box and cassette tapes and just record hours of IRIE FM on cassette, commercials and all, so I could go home and put them in my cassette player in the car and pretend I was still in Jamaica, besides listening to the awesome music!!!!”
Eventually, she performed a neat bit of gymnastics and landed on FM radio. She began to play gigs at stations such as Dive FM in Boston, Reggae Vybz Radio in Mount VernonNY, and also landed a prime time slot on BigCity 101.3FM in Boston with Ghetto Hype of King Midas Sound on the Old Time Sittin' Show.
“I'll still be broadcasting from Jamaica but it will also be heard up in Boston still over the Internet at www.caribbeanfyah.com when I come to JA,” she said.
She also dabbles in artiste management where she has reaped some amount of success with P Zed, the brother of Little Hero. She has been managing him since 2008.
“I really love artist management, but it’s hard but so rewarding when you are able to help a talented artist. So I'm coming to Jamaica to really do a push on PZed, try to steer him more towards his acoustic performances because he's such an incredible musician and when he's behind his guitar and singing, he's at his best,” she said.