Controversial funk singer, Mr. Catra, husband to three wives and father of 32 children, dies at age 49
By Marques Travae
One never knows when they may be seeing or talking to a person they may know at a certain point in their lives for the last time. I am the kind of person who always thinks of people I have known in the past, even if only briefly and years later wonder, “What ever happened such and such?” In the last month, in seeking former friends and colleagues online, I discovered that two people I had worked closely with in the period between 2007 and 2010 had passed away. Last week, searching for another former colleague, I discovered that he had been news item back in 2015 when the community in which he lived pooled together resources to the tune of $18,000 and bought him a new car so that he would no longer need to ride his bike back and forth to work in the rain and snow. He was actually doing that when I last knew him in the early part of the first decade of the 2000s. Good for him! I gotta contact him sometime…
Sometimes when searching for such people, you might discover these people are doing the same things they were doing when you knew them, sometimes they have gone on to great professional or financial success, sometimes you’ll find people down and out. You can just never know.
The last time I featured controversial funk singer Mr. Catra on this blog was back in March of 2017 when he expressed his view on the history of the enslavement of African peoples. For the funkster, “It was not the white who enslaved the black, it was the black who enslaved the black”. Catra was known for a number of other intriguing details about his life and career as well. His career blew up in the mid ‘90s as he made a name for himself with his risqué lyrics and heavy lyrical content in the musical genre known as funk carioca. Mr. Catra, birth name Wagner Domingues Costa, was also known for his unconventional family that included at least three wives and 32 children. He also spoke four languages, earned a law degree and claims to have converted to Judaism. Quite an intriguing life that came to an end today, September 9th, when Mr.Catra died at age 49 from stomach cancer. Interned at Hospital do Coração (HCor), in São Paulo, his family received the news from cancer surgeon Dr. Ricardo Motta today at 3:20pm.
Mr. Catra came to fame with the album O Bonde dos Justos in 1994 carried by the hit single “Vida na Cadeia”. In the 2000s, Catra was asked to testify at the DECCT (Specialized Police Station in Crimes against the Tourist) due to the lyrics of his song “Cachorro”, one of his biggest hits, that was interpreted as an apology to organized crime. The lyrics spoke of corrupt police. In his defense, Catra said he didn’t know criminal factions, and that he wasn’t an accomplice to crime but that he was simply reporting on a reality of life in the favela.
I wasn’t aware that Catra had actually revealed his battle with cancer at the end of 2017. Speaking on the ordeal of discovering the illness, Catra said: “At that moment, it’s impacting. The first blow, if you are not psychologically prepared, it’s fire. I gathered everyone [of the family] and I said: ‘Don’t worry’. I didn’t think of dying at any moment,” he would say in a n interview on the Programa do Porchat talk show just a few months later.
The singer also shared his belief that some of his bad life habits lead to his diagnosis of cancer. A failure to relax, little sleep and bad eating habits are a few of those choices that he believed contributed to the illness, although he believed the treatment he was receiving would save his life.
With the news of his passing, several artists began releasing statements. Popular funk singer Valesca Popozuda wrote on her Instagram:
“That’s how I’ll always remember you, my “daddy”! Few knew of the importance you have in my life, but you always took care of me like a daughter, of all people who gave me support and strength when I started you were the one who extended your hand and put me in your “lap” and said “let’s go and I’ll teach you how to do it!” Rest in peace, negão, you will shine from above, go with God because you will make a void for all of us, but have your deserved rest! I love you I love you I love you #Luto (in mourning).”
“What sadness, perhaps because I hear you complain so much of pain a comfort to your body. I get annoyed when I see someone in your segment does not revere you, because if today the funk is well accepted you made an incredible contribution. Rest in peace and eternally I will remember your smile. I love you.”, wrote samba musician, Arlindinho Cruz, himself recovering from a serious illness.
“My feelings to the whole family, Mr. Catra. What a short life, my God. This guy was one of my teachers in the funk world, he taught me many good things, I still remember him giving me advice and advice. You’ll miss me a lot, FUNK MYTH,” wrote funk singer Nego do Borel.
One of Catra’s last photos was posted on Instagram in a photo in which he was surrounded by a number of his children on Father’s Day.