American Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Pérez, better known by her stage name Selena, was born in Texas. She was dubbed the “Queen of Tejano Music” and became one of the most well-known Mexican-American celebrities of the late 20th century because of her contributions to music and fashion. She was named third on Billboard magazine’s list of the “Greatest Latino Artists of All Time” for 2020 based on the sales of Latin albums and Latin singles.
She made her music debut as a part of Selena y Los Dinos, a group that also included her older siblings A.B. Quintanilla and Suzette Quintanilla. Selena is the youngest child in the Quintanilla family. She received harsh criticism and was turned down for bookings at establishments throughout Texas in the 1980s because she performed Tejano music, a genre of music dominated by men.
She gained notoriety by winning the Tejano Music Award for Female Vocalist of the Year nine times in a row beginning in 1987. She obtained a contract with EMI Latin in 1989, the same year she launched her self-titled first album, and her brother took over as her primary music producer and songwriter.
In 1992, Selena released her album Entre a Mi Mundo, which spent eight months at the top of the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart. The success of the album in sales has led reviewers to label it as her “breakthrough” album. “Como la Flor,” one of its singles, became one of her most well-known signature songs. Live! (1993) became the first recording by a female Tejano artist to win Best Mexican/American Album at the 1994 Grammy Awards. She released Amor Prohibido in 1994, which went on to become one of the top-selling Latin albums in the country. As one of the most well-known Latin music subgenres at the time, Tejano music was widely recognized as having its first commercially successful phase because of this.
The former manager of Selena Etc. Boutiques and her companion Yolanda Saldavar shot and killed Selena on March 31, 1995. Police cordoned off Saldvar as she tried to escape; she threatened to kill herself but was persuaded to turn herself in. She was found guilty of murder and given a life sentence with a 30-year parole possibility. George W. Bush, the state’s former governor, proclaimed April 16 to be Selena Day in Texas two weeks later. Selena was the first Latin singer to achieve this feat with her posthumous crossover album Dreaming of You (1995), which debuted at the top of the Billboard 200.
The movie Selena, on her life and career, was released by Warner Bros. in 1997, and it starred a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez as Selena, launching Lopez into stardom. Christian Serratos is the star of Selena: The Series, which Netflix released in 2020. Selena is one of the best-selling female Latin musicians, with about 18 million recordings sold globally.
Early Life and Family
On April 16, 1971, Selena was born in Lake Jackson, Texas. Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, was formerly a musician. Selena Y Los Dinos, a band from his family, was managed and produced by him.
Although Selena was raised speaking English, her father gave her the Spanish singing gene so she could connect with the Latino population. She initially learned the lyrics phonetically and finally became fluent in Spanish. She also started acting when she was young.
Selena rose to the position of lead singer in her family’s band around the age of ten. The band initially performed at bars and weddings in their native Texas. In the band, her brother Abraham played bass guitar and her sister Suzette played drums.
Selena was referred to as the “Queen of Tejano,” a style of Mexican music that combined other genres like country and Western. She was occasionally referred to as the “Mexican Madonna” because of her seductive attire and dancing.
Ven Conmigo (1990)
Selena’s 1990 album was the first Tejano record to be recognized as a gold record, or as having sold more than 500,000 copies.
Selena won the Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album, making her the first female Tejano performer to do so. Her Live! album reached No. 2 on the Top Latin Albums chart of Billboard.
Amor Prohibido (1994)
1994 saw Selena and the band perform on multiple tour dates in Argentina, California, Puerto Rico, and New York. The same year, Amor Prohibido was released and became a gold record.
Dreaming of You (1995)
Soon after Live!’s debut, Selena started working on her first album in English to make it to the top of the U.S. pop music charts. Sadly, she passed away before it could be a success.
Following Selena’s passing, Dreaming of You was released and quickly became a tremendous success. The week of August 5, 1995, the album debuted at the top of the Billboard Top 200. It was the first album with a majority of Spanish lyrics to top the charts as a result.
Both 12 Super Exitos (1994) and All My Hits Todos Mis Exitos (1999) are well-known Selena music compilation CDs.
On the Hot Latin Songs Chart, seven of Selena’s songs reached the top spot, while another 14 hit the top 10. “Dreaming of You” peaked at number 22 on the Hot 100 charts.
The following Selena songs are also well-known:
- “No Me Queda Mas”
- “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”
- “Amor Prohibido”
- “Tu Solo Tu”
- “I Could Fall in Love”
- “El Chico del Apartamento 512”
- “Que Creias”
- “Baila Esta Cumbia”
- “I’m Getting Used to You”
- “La Carcacha”
- “Fotos Y Recuerdos (Back On The Chain Gang)”
- “Buenos Amigos”
- “Dondequiera Que Estes”
- “Missing My Baby”
- “Siempre Hace Frio”
- “No Debes Jugar”
- “Techno Cumbia”
- “La Llamada”
- “Como La Flor”
- “No Quiero Saber”
Grammy and Other Awards
For her album Live!, Selena was awarded a Grammy in 1993 for Best Mexican-American Album. 36th Grammy Awards ceremony.
Tejano music lovers loved Selena a lot. She received “Best Female Vocalist of the Year” and “Performer of the Year” at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards.
On April 2, 1992, Selena tied the knot with Chris Pérez. When Pérez joined Selena’s band, Los Dinos, as the lead guitarist in 1990, the two first got to know one another and started dating covertly. Before Selena was assassinated in 1995, they were married for almost three years.
On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot and died in Corpus Christi, Texas. The young woman had recently turned 23.
The death of Selena shocked the Latino community, and her followers mourned her loss all around the world.
Selena was murdered by Yolanda Saldivar, the leader of her fan group. Saldivar was in charge of running Selena’s store in San Antonio. According to court documents, the two were meeting in a hotel room to talk about Selena’s worries that Saldivar was stealing money. Saldivar asserted that the shot was unintentional. In October 1995, she received a life sentence.
By the time 2025 rolls around, Saldivar will have completed at least 30 years of her sentence and will be eligible for release.
Selena, a 1997 movie based on Selena’s life, stars Jennifer Lopez as the Tejano music icon and Edward James Olmos as her father. Lopez was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance and became the first Latina actress to earn $1 million for a movie role.
Book, Lawsuit, and Series
To Selena, With Love, a book written by Pérez about his relationship with Selena was released in 2012. He intended to adapt the book into a television program.
In 2016, Abraham filed a lawsuit against Pérez for breaching the terms of an estate agreement that Pérez had signed soon after the singer passed away and which granted her father indefinite exclusivity over the use of Selena’s name, voice, pictures, and story. Late in 2018, Pérez’s appeal was denied, and the lawsuit was dismissed by both parties the following May.
The Quintanilla family will serve as executive producers of a scripted series about the singer’s life that Netflix is creating. Christian Serratos of The Walking Dead’s Selena: The Series made its premiere in December 2020.
Selena’s music and persona have remained popular over the years. On November 3, 2017, which was declared “Selena Day” in Los Angeles by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Selena was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In that year’s Halloween tribute to musical greats, reality star Kim Kardashian West also dressed as the Tejano singer.
In February 2019, Texas State Representative Ana-Maria Ramos filed legislation designating April 16 as Selena’s birthday. San Diego State University has announced intentions to introduce a brand-new course in 2020 titled “Selena and Latinx Media Representation” in the same year.
Selena was inducted into the Star Trail of Fame outside the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March 2020, making her the first Latina musician and the ninth person overall to do so.
The “Queen of Tejano Music,” Selena Quintanilla Pérez, was a legendary American singer who made her mark on the music business. Selena, a Texas native, overcame obstacles to pave the way for women in Tejano music. Her life was tragically cut short, yet her influence lives on. Awards, accolades, and a biographical movie are used to recognize Selena’s influence. She is one of the most well-known Latin artists of all time because of her enduring appeal.