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Selena: The Queen Of Tejano Music

Updated on October 9, 2014

I first discovered Selena through my grandma when I was 7 years old. I was at my grandma's house one day and she had the radio on as she was cooking. Selena's "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" came on and I instantly fell in love. I asked my grandma who sang that song and she said "Selena". From that moment on, I became hooked on Selena's music. A few months later my grandma bought me the movie "Selena" for Christmas. I was so happy and couldn't wait to watch the movie. After I watched the movie and I learned more about Selena's life, I loved her even more. I bought all of her CDs and I would sing along and dance in my room to her music. She was my role model. Unfortunately since Selena passed away when I was 4, I didn't have the chance to see or know about her when she was alive. I really wish I could have.

Even though many years have passed I still love Selena. I still listen to her music all the time, and I still adore her just as much as I did when I was young. Since I love Selena so much, I thought I would share with you about her life and her music.

Selena y Los Dinos
Selena y Los Dinos

Selena's Early Years

Selena Quintanilla-Perez was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. She was the youngest of three children born to Abraham Quintanilla, Jr.and Marcella Ofelia. Selena began to show an interest in singing when she was just 3 years old. By the time she was 6 years old she was singing in both English and Spanish, although since she didn't speak Spanish at the time, she sang phonetically. Later on, Selena did learn how to speak Spanish fluently. When Selena was 9 her father formed the music group "Selena y Los Dinos". In English, "Los Dinos" means "The Guys". The group consisted of Selena, who was the lead singer, her brother Abraham (A.B.) on the bass guitar, and her sister Suzette played the drums. Suzette and A.B. would continue to play in the band with Selena throughout her entire music career. A.B. also would go on to produce and write many of Selena's songs. Selena's father, who was a former musician, managed and produced the group.

At first, "Selena y Los Dinos" would perform at their family owned restaurant, Papa Gayos, until they lost the restaurant due to bankruptcy. This caused the family to move to Corpus Christi, Texas. After the move the group would perform anywhere they could from county fairs and quinceneras, to weddings as well.

As the years passed, "Selena y Los Dinos" became very popular. In 1984, the band's hard efforts finally paid off. In 1984, "Selena y Los Dinos" recorded their self-titled debut album for an independent recording label. Throughout the next three years and without a recording contract, she released four more albums.

At the 1986 Tejano Music Awards, Selena won "Best Female Vocalist" award. Selena would go on to win this award every year continuously through 1996.

When Selena was performing at the 1989 Tejano Music Awards, she caught the attention of former EMI Records president Jose Behar. Jose went on to sign Selena to EMI Latin records.

The year 1989 proved to be a successful one for Selena. On October 17th, 1989 she released her self-titled debut album Selena through EMI Latin records. This was the first album that showed the artist as Selena instead of "Selena y Los Dinos". Another big thing that happened for Selena that year was that she became a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola.

Selena's self-titled debut album.
Selena's self-titled debut album.
Ven Conmigo. The album cover was shot in black and white because Selena had dyed her hair jet black the night before the photo shoot and got some hair dye on her face.
Ven Conmigo. The album cover was shot in black and white because Selena had dyed her hair jet black the night before the photo shoot and got some hair dye on her face.
Entre A Mi Mundo
Entre A Mi Mundo
Selena Live!
Selena Live!
Amor Prohibido
Amor Prohibido
Dreaming Of You
Dreaming Of You

Selena's Rise To Fame

In 1988, Selena met musician Chris Perez. He was later hired on by Selena's father to play lead guitar in the band. Selena and Chris were only friends at first but that soon evolved to something more. They began dating soon after Chris joined the band.

On October 6th, 1990 Selena's second studio album Ven Conmigo was released. This was the first Tejano album recorded by a female artist to read gold status.

Unfortunately it was also around this time when a fan by the name of Yolanda Saldivar came into Selena's life. Yolanda approached Selena's father about the idea of starting a fan club for the singer. Selena's father thought it was a good idea and Yolanda became the club's president.

Although Selena and Chris has been in a relationship for quite some time now, her father did not approve of the relationship. He disapproved so much that he fired Chris from the band and threatened to disband the group altogether. However, the couple didn't care what anyone thought about them. They loved each other and wanted to be together no matter what. So, on April 2nd, 1992, the couple eloped. Selena knew her father would be upset by this. Thankfully, her father came to accept the marriage and he admitted that he felt sorry for the way he had acted.

On May 6th, 1992, Selena's third studio album Entre a Mi Mundo was released. Her famous hit song Como La Flor, is featured on this album. Entre a Mi Mundo went gold as well. Many critics consider this to be Selena's breakthrough album. Entre a Mi Mundo won "Orchestra Album Of The Year" at the 1993 Tejano Music Awards.

On May 4th 1993, Selena went on to release the live album Selena Live! This album led Selena to win "Best Mexican-American Album" at the 36th Grammy Awards. She was the first Tejano musician to ever win this award.

Apart from her love for music, Selena also loved to design clothing. In 1994 she launched her own clothing line and opened two boutiques called Selena Etc. The boutiques were located in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Texas. With the opening of these boutiques led Yolanda Saldivar to become promoted from fan club president to manager of the Selena Etc. boutiques.

Selena's fifth studio album Amor Prohibido was released on March 13th, 1994. Amor Prohibido was one of the best selling albums in the US in 1995. It was also nominated for a Grammy award for "Mexican-American Album Of The Year". The success of this album helped expose Tejano music to younger and wider audiences. It is also said that this album opened the door for other Latin artists such a Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, and Christina Aguilera.

Due to the success of Amor Prohibido, Selena signed a crossover deal with SBK records to record her first English album which would be called Dreaming Of You. This would be Selena's sixth and last album. Sadly, Selena had only recorded four songs for Dreaming Of You by the time of her death. Since she was unable to complete this album, Dreaming Of You was released posthumously on July 18th, 1995. The album features the four new songs she recorded and the other songs on the CD were songs that were previously released.

Selena also made appearances on the Mexican telenovela Dos Mujeres, Un Camino, playing opposite Erik Estrada. She was also in negotiations to appear in another telenovela but sadly that never happened. Selena also had a brief role as a background Mariachi singer in the 1995 film Don Juan DeMarco.

I have never heard a bad thing about Selena. She had such a beautiful, and loving personality. She took time out of her busy career to visit schools and speak to children and teens the importance of graduating from high school and to pursue your goals in life. She also was a spokeswoman for the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) organization to keeps kids and teens off drugs and alcohol. She also was a spokeswoman for a Battered Women's Help Hotline. Selena was truly a giving and caring person. She truly cared about people, and I think that is one of the reasons why so many people love her.

Selena with her Grammy.
Selena with her Grammy.
Selena and Chris
Selena and Chris
Selena performing at her last concert.
Selena performing at her last concert.

Losing Selena

In early 1995, the Quintanillas discovered that fan club president and boutique manager, Yolanda Saldivar, was embezzling money from the fan club. Money from the Selena Etc. boutique account also started to disappear. They immediately decided to fire Yolanda. Three weeks later, Selena had agreed to meet Yolanda at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi to retrieve some financial records that Yolanda had been holding on to. To delay things, Yolanda claimed she had been raped the night before in Mexico. Selena then drove Yolanda to the hospital where doctors could find no evidence of rape. They then returned to the motel and Selena demanded the papers from her. They got into a heated argument and Yolanda drew a gun from her purse and pointed it at Selena. As Selena turned to run away, Yolanda shot her in her right shoulder, severing an artery. Selena then ran towards the lobby for help. While the motel clerk was calling 911, Selena collapsed on the motel lobby floor. Before she became unconscious, Selena was able to identify Yolanda as the person who shot her. Selena was then rushed to the hospital where she died due to loss of blood at 1:05pm on March 31st, 1995. Selena was only 23. She is buried at Seaside Memorial Park, Corpus Christi, Texas. In October 1995, Yolanda Saldivar was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility of parole for thirty years.

Selena's death devastated her fans. The way it happened was just so shocking and sad. Major news stations interrupted their broadcasts to break the news of her death. Several memorials and vigils were held in honor of her, and Spanish radio stations played her music non-stop. Her funeral drew 60,000 people, many who traveled far to pay their respects. On April 12th 1995, then Governor of Texas, George W. Bush, declared Selena's birthday, April 16th, as Selena Day in Texas. Later that same year, Selena was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall Of Fame.

In 1997, Gregory Nava produced the movie Selena. Jennifer Lopez stars as Selena in the film. This is personally one of my favorite films. I think Jennifer portrays Selena perfectly. I am glad a film about Selena was made because it helps introduce Selena and her music for generations to come.

Selena has sold over 60 million albums worldwide. Though it has been many years since her death, she is definitely not forgotten. Even though several years have passed she is still greatly missed. She will live on forever as the "Queen Of Tejano Music".

If you have never heard of Selena and her music, I urge you to listen to her music. Her music is fun, happy, and good to dance to. Even if you don't like Spanish music, give it a try.

© 2014 Danielle


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