was born to Mexican American parents on April 16th 1971 in Lake
Jackson Texas. She was the youngest child of Abraham Quintanilla Jr.
and Marcella Ofelia Samora.
She joined her brother Abraham (A.B.) who was eight and sister Suzette who was four.
At the time of her tragic murder on March 31st 1995,
Selena was known as “The Queen of Tejano”.
Tejano music is
a fusion of polkas, country-western and traditional Mexican folk music that
is sung in Spanish. Selena and her group “Los Dinos”
created a unique sound by mixing in Colombian cumbia, pop and
R&B – winning
them fans all over the United States, Latin America and the world.
Selena is loved by her fans for her
kindness, her love of her fans, her positive attitude and, of course, the
wonderful music she made.
Selena started showing an interest
singing when she was three years old. At six, she was singing in both
English and Spanish – although because she didn’t know how to speak Spanish
at the time, she sang phonetically. Selena y
was nine, her father started a musical group.
Abraham had always had a strong passion for music.
In the late 50’s
and early 60’s, he was part of a group called “Los Dinos” which in
English means “The Guys”. He adopted his old group name, for the new
family group name calling the band “
Suzette played drums in the group. A.B. played bass (he would
go to produce and write many of Selena's songs.)
Selena Y Los Dino’s first performance
was in 1980 at the Quintanilla family restaurant “Papa Gayos”.
Soon however, the restaurant went bankrupt.
Abraham packed up the family and moved
to Corpus Christi. In 1984, Selena
recorded her first album simply called Selena
Y Los Dinos on the Freddie Label.
Despite radio airplay of Ya Se Va the album did not sell well.
Abraham moved the band from the Freddie Label to Cara Records before
ending up on the Manny Label. Abraham bought the rights to the Selena y Los Dinos album which was
eventually released in 1995 as Mis Primeras Grabaciones (My First
Recordings). It was the only non-EMI Selena album to be re-released.
In 1986, Selena y Los Dinos released the album Alpha
followed by Muñequito Ee Trapo. Also in 1986,
Selena was discovered by two huge names in the Tejano Music
Industry: Rick Trevi founder of the Tejano Music Awards and Johnny Canales the host of one of the
top Spanish television shows.
Selena y Los Dinos released three more
albums in 1987 and 1988 (And The Winner Is . . . ; Dulce Amor;
(For Selena’s full discography click here.)
In 1986 at the Tejano Music Awards, Selena
won the Best Female vocalist award. An award she would win every year
through to and including 1996.
In 1989, EMI President Jose Behar attended the Tejano Music Awards.
He he saw Selena perform and win...when she yelled out "Whattaburgers
for everyone"...the crowd went crazy! He was like "what's a
Whattaburger?" But more importantly, because of her dynamic
performance, he knew he'd found the star he'd been looking for. He soon
signed her to EMI Latin.
That same year, her first
album was released on EMI Latin called simply Selena. It
was the first album that listed the artist as
Selena instead of Selena y Los Dinos. The song featured such notable songs as
Quiero Estar and Sukiyaki (a cover of Kyu Sakamoto's 1963 hit).
The same year, she also became a spokesperson for Coca Cola.
In 1990, Selena released
Mis Primeros Exitos
(My First Hits) a collection of some of her best 80's songs re-recorded
and Ven Conmigo
(Come With Me). Ven Conmigo was the first Tejano album to achieve gold status.
In 1991, her duet with Salvadoran singer Alvaro Torres "Buenos
Amigos" (Good Friends) became her first number one song.
The next year, she released Entre a Mi Mundo (Enter My World)
which also went gold. Entre a Mi Mundo contained what was to
become one of her biggest songs Como La Flor (Like The Flower).
Selena married Chris Perez, the
lead guitarist of Los Dinos, on April 2nd, 1992.
In 1993, she won a Grammy for Best Mexican-American performance for
her album Selena Live. Also in 1993, she began designing and
manufacturing a clothing line. She opened two Selena Etc. boutiques;
one in Corpus Christi and one in San Antonio.
1994 was another big year for Selena.
Her album Amor Prohibido (Forbidden Love) was nominated for
another Grammy. She made appearances in the Latin soap opera Dos Mujeres,
Un Camino. Her duet with the Barrio Boyzz "Donde Quiera Que
Estés" (Wherever You Are) hit number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin
In 1995, Selena made a cameo appearance
as a background mariachi singer in the romantic comedy
Don Juan DeMarco
Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway). She also became the first
female Latin artist to be signed to SBK, the sister label of EMI Latin with
intent of promoting her upcoming planned English album.
On February 26th 1995 she played to 61,041 fans at the Houston
Livestock Show and Rodeo in the Houston Astrodome. The Last
Concert, a DVD of her performance, was released September 2nd 2003.
March 31st, 1995
In early 1995, the Quintanillas discovered that
Selena’s fan club president and manager
of her boutiques,
was embezzling money from the fan club. They decided to fire her. Money also
started to turn up missing from the Selena Etc. account.
On the morning of March 31st, 1995 Selena
agreed to meet Saldivar
at the Corpus Christi Days Inn. Selena
was hoping to retrieve some paperwork that was necessary for tax purposes.
told Selena she had been raped the night
before. So Selena drove her to the
hospital where doctors found no evidence of rape.
Once they got back to the motel, Selena
soon realized she could not longer trust
and an argument ensued. At 11:48 am,
Saldivar drew a gun from her purse and,
as Selena turned to run from the room,
shot her in the back.
Selena ran to the lobby and collapsed on the floor. Before she
passed out she identified
as the person who shot her.
Selena was rushed to the local hospital
where she was pronounced dead at 1:05 pm. She was 23. She was two days away
from her third wedding anniversary and 17 days shy of her 24th birthday.
In October of 1995, Saldivar
was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison – with
no eligibility of parole for 30 years.
Selena’s death devastated the Latin
community. Plus it shocked and saddened non-Latinos who had come to love
Julio Iglesias and
Madonna expressed their condolences to the Quintanilla
Her funeral drew 60,000 people. Celebrities such as
People magazine published a commemorative issue in tribute to
Selena - Her Life in Pictures. It
quickly sold out. (Its popularity led to People’s decision to publish
People en Español (People in Spanish).
In the summer of 1995, the album Dreaming Of You was released.
Dreaming Of You was a combination of Spanish songs and the four English
songs that Selena hard recorded for her planned English album. It debuted at
number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. She was the first Latin artist to do
so. Songs like I Could Fall In Love and Dreaming Of You were
widely played on mainstream English radio.
On March 27th 1997 the movie Selena was
released. It was directed by Gregory Nava and starred
Lopez as Selena. It
continues to be popular and has helped make a whole new generation of fans
aware of who Selena was and what she
accomplished in her life.
April 7th 2005, at tribute concert to Selena
was held in Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The event was called Selena Vive
Lives). Over 65,000 fans attended. It featured stars like
Fey and many other powerhouse Latin performers.
The concert ended with all the performers (and the crowd) singing
along with Selena’s 1995 Houston
Astrodome performance of Como La Flor. Selena
became the highest-rated and most viewed Spanish language show in American
Television history. It scored at 35.9 Nielson rating.
Selena felt it was important to find
time to encourage children and young adults to stay in school. She spoke
many times in schools about the importance of getting a High School diploma
and achieving your goals. Selena loved
to go to public middle schools and high schools to talk to the kids about
the importance of staying in school, avoiding drugs and alcohol, remaining
chaste and pursuing goals.Selena’s Legacy of
Positivity and Kindness
In 1993, Selena gave a free concert for
Texas students who drastically improved on their grades, and donated $2,500
to School Programs.
She did a public service video for schools entitled Mi Musica, which
was sponsored by Agree Shampoo. In the video,
Selena spoke about Mexican music in America, but left them
an important message that staying in school and graduating high school is
the most important thing that they will do in their life.
(To view it click here and select "Mi Musica - Mexican
American Music of Today" under "Selena Video Clips".)
Selena was a spokesperson for the
D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program to keep kids
off drugs and a Battered Women’s Help Hotline. It’s been said that when
Selena's commercial for the help hotline aired, the phone lines would light
Selena also participated at many Stay
In School Jamborees, her last being in March of 1995, just two weeks
before her death. She expressed her excitement at the turnout, "It shows
that kids want to do something good for themselves..."
She was also in the process of organizing a benefit concert for The Boys
and Girls Clubs located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Her Community Service was honored on April 8, 1994 when the mayor of
Houston proclaimed that day "Selena
Selena was definitely not a normal
artist, who was only preoccupied with her success. She really cared for
people and that's why people cared so much for her.
To this day, Selena continues to be a
huge presence in the lives of her fans (many who weren’t even born
when she passed). -T.J. (Webmaster)
She’s become a cultural icon. Someone who was proud of her roots who worked
hard and achieved her goals. She was nice to everyone she met regardless of
their station in life. And, of course, she also made great music.
For all these reasons (and many more) she has become a role
model to millions of people around the world.
In 2005 her father said this about Selena’s
“Her fans viewed her as a positive, humble person and I've always
believed that in Selena's case it was
not just the music but the person who made an impact.”
Musical artists come and go, but Selena was and will always be someone very special. People identify with her story.
They appreciate and respect who she was as a person. EMI President Jose
Behar reflected on Selena shortly
after her passing…
“When I think of Selena nowadays,
what comes to mind is not her musical career, even though it was enormously
successful and remains so more than two months after her death. Rather, I
think about how much I miss this special person, who was so caring, so warm.
I am convinced if she had lived Selena
would have been a major, major star in the Anglo record world.
As it turns out, Selena left us with an
enduring legacy immeasurably more valuable than hit records and sold out
concerts. She heightened our awareness of what really counts:
Love and respect for one another.”
In the Selena Vive program, Los Dinos’
member Ricky Vela said this of Selena…
“I wish I could tell people how wonderful you were, but I don't know how
to share all the many kindnesses that you showed me.“
Ricky’s comment sums up perfectly why
Selena will always live in the hearts
of her fans. We should all live our lives in hopes of being worthy of a
compliment like Ricky gave to Selena.
It’s a simple message really: be kind to others…
Whether it’s the person behind the counter taking your fast food order,
someone you work with, your mother, your father, someone down on their luck,
an old friend you bump into on the street, your brother, your sister, a
matter who it is…
...be kind, smile and put a
smile on their face.
And wherever she may be, you’ll know
is smiling with you.