Víctor Víctor, Known for the Hit ‘Mesita de Noche,’ Dies at 71

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.[1]

As a university student in the Dominican Republic, Víctor Jose Víctor had plans to become a psychologist. But then he found music.

He began performing his own songs, and soon he had gained fame for them. In 1975 he was among the first Dominican artists to visit Cuba after the Dominican government had prohibited travel there.

He also began writing and producing songs for pioneering Dominican musicians like Wilfrido Vargas and Juan Luis Guerra.

His 1991 song “Mesita de Noche” became his best known and made him a superstar. It led to tours in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries as well as the United States.

Mr. Víctor died on July 16 of Covid-19 at a hospital in Santo Domingo, the capital, his son, Ian, said. He was 71.

He was taken to the hospital two weeks after visiting a studio to work on a television special for the government-owned channel Radio y Televisión Dominicana to benefit musicians who had lost work because of the pandemic, his son said in an interview.

Víctor Jose Víctor Rojas was born on Dec. 11, 1948, in Santiago de Los Caballeros, a city in the northern Dominican Republic. His mother, Avelina Rojas de Víctor, was a homemaker; his father, Jose Víctor Arias, ran a pharmacy.

He studied medicine at the Universidad Pedro Henríquez Ureña, but transferred to the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo to take up psychology, according to his cousin, Panchy Cantisano. He never graduated, Ms. Cantisano said, because he had decided he was going to be a musician.

His first song, “La Casita,” was released in 1972.

Soon after, he joined Mr. Vargas, who was his neighbor in Santiago de los Caballeros and a trailblazing merenguero, and his band, Los Beduinos. Mr. Víctor also took part in the movement opposed to the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo[2], and he began to write protest songs. As a young man he traveled the country as part of youth groups protesting the government while receiving an education in local rhythms.

In 1987, he began producing records for many Dominican musicians, including Mr. Guerra, Los Hermanos Rosario and Sergio Vargas. It was a natural progression from being a songwriter, his son said, and he knew most of the talent in the country.

“He lived a double life,” Ian Víctor said. “He was writing romantic songs and being an artist, but he was also part of the underground political movement.”

He had a third musical life as well: writing jingles for advertising agencies. He worked on campaigns for companies like Brugal and Barcelo, the main rum companies in the Dominican Republic.

For the last four years Mr. Víctor ran programs that provided free theater, dance and music lessons in poor neighborhoods.

“They already have musicians that have gone into the professional level,” Ian Víctor said.

In addition to his son, Mr. Víctor is survived by his wife, Zobeyda Ferreras de Víctor; a daughter, Amy; four grandchildren; a brother, Jorge Alfredo; and a sister, Vilma.

“My father was a benevolent, happy man,” Ian Víctor said. “He died helping others, and I am really proud of that.”

References

  1. ^ here (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (www.nytimes.com)
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