Remembering Selena Quintanilla

default article imageSelena Quintanilla, the Queen of Tejano music, tragically lost her life at the cusp of her career. On March 31st, 1995, the late singer got shot by Yolanda Salidvar, friend and president of her fan club, and 26 years later her legacy lives on. 

Quintanilla quickly won over the hearts of many with her catchy tracks including “Como la Flor,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Baila Esta Cumbia,” and many more. Not only was she known for her songs in Spanish, she crossed over to the English market with songs like “Dreaming of You” and “I Could Fall in Love.”

Selena was born on April 10, 1976 and began to sing at the age of 10 when she became the lead singer of the family band, Selena y los Dinos. Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, became the band’s manager. The band consisted of her sister, Suzzette, on the drums, and her older brother AB on bass guitar. 

Selena grew up speaking English, but her father taught her Spanish so she could reach the Latino community. In the beginning, the band performed at weddings and family parties. 

In 1983 she made her recording debut, after appearing on the popular radio show of Johnny Canales. In 1987 she was named Female Vocalist of the Year and Performer of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards. In 1989 she signed with EMI latin and in 1990, Selena y Los Dinos released their eponymous debut album. 

At only 23 years of age, Selena had won a Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album for Selena Live in 1993, which made her the first female Tejano artist to win this category. Her Grammy-nominated album Amor Prohibido reached number 29 on the Billboard 200. This LP featured Billboard Hot Latin number-one hits including “ Amor Prohibido,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “No Me Queda Mas” and “Fotos y Recuerdos.” 

Not only did Selena dream of singing, but was a fashion icon herself. She was known for wearing dazzling bralettes, bell-bottoms, belt buckles, and crop tops. She loved fashion so much that she designed all her outfits herself.  Quintanilla opened up her own boutiques, Selena Etc., two boutiques were located in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. 

Selena married Chris Perez, the band’s leading guitarist, in 1992. The couple met and began dating in 1990, when Perez joined the band. The couple was married for three years before Selena’s passing. 

On March 30, E! Entertainment premiered an episode of their True Hollywood Story series which told the story of Selena’s rise to fame and her tragic death. Chris Perez, Selena’s widower, shared his experience of coping with the death of his wife. 

According to E! Online, “It was traumatic. It was the hardest thing up until that point that I had ever had to go through,” Perez shared. “I miss her face, her laughter. She was just an amazing soul, an amazing spirit.”

He continued, “I heard fans that were like, ‘How could we let that happen?’ Come on now. You think that I would let anything happen to her? Like seriously? None of us thought that that was even a possibility”. 

The album “Dreaming of You” was released four months after her death and was the first album to reach number one on the Billboard 100 by a Latin artist. There were six albums released after her death, each reaching number one in the Top Latin album charts. 

Perez wrote a book titled To Selena, With Love in 2012 in which he planned to turn into a television series. He was sued by Abraham Quintanilla for violating an estate agreement, which he signed after the star’s death, which gave the father exclusive rights to Selena’s name, voice, photographs and story forever. The case was dismissed after an agreement on both sides. 

Selena’s story was turned into a movie which was released in 1997 starring Jennifer Lopez. In December 2020, Netflix released Selena: The Series, with the Quintanilla family serving as executive producers, and Christian Serratos playing Selena. 

Many believe that if she were to be alive today, there is no doubt she would have been a super star. Her humility, simplicity, and story is what resonated with many around the world. Selena became a cultural reference for many and was an inspiration for the Latinx community. 

Twenty six years later, fans still play her music and honor her memory every day. Her songs about love, heartbreak, and loss mixed with infectious rhythms cause everyone to belt out the lyrics when it comes on the radio or at a party. 

Selena once said “I want to be remembered not only as an entertainer but as a person who cared a lot, and I gave the best that I could. I tried to be the best role model that I possibly could.”  Selena was a star whose light dimmed way too soon, but her legacy will live on forever for generations to come. Long live la Reina del Tex-Mex! 

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University