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This article is about the singer. For other uses, see Selena (disambiguation).
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.jpg
Selena as photographed by Agree shampoo staff in 1995
Born Selena Quintanilla
(1971-04-16)April 16, 1971
Lake Jackson, Texas, U.S.
Died March 31, 1995(1995-03-31) (aged 23)
Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
Cause of death
Gunshot wound
Resting place
Seaside Memorial Park
Corpus Christi, Texas
Monuments Mirador de la Flor
Other names Selena Quintanilla-Pérez
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • spokesperson
  • fashion designer
Years active 1982 (1982)–1995 (1995)
Spouse(s) Chris Pérez (m. 199295) (her death)
Relatives Suzette Quintanilla (sister), A.B. Quintanilla III (brother)
Awards List of awards and nominations
Musical career
Associated acts

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995), known by the mononym Selena, was an American singer, songwriter, spokesperson, actress, and fashion designer. Called the Queen of Tejano music, her contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican American entertainers of the end of the 20th century as Hispanics elevated her into sainthood. She was named the "top Latin artist of the '90s" and "Best selling Latin artist of the decade" by Billboard magazine, as well as the "Mexican equivalent" of Madonna in terms of her clothing choices.

The youngest child of the Quintanilla family, she debuted on the music scene along with her elder siblings A.B. Quintanilla III and Suzette Quintanilla as a member of Selena y Los Dinos in 1980, and began recording professionally in 1982. In the 1980s, Selena was often criticized and was turned down at venues across Texas for performing Tejano music—a male-dominated music genre. However, her popularity grew after she won the Tejano Music Award for Female Vocalist of the Year in 1986, which she won nine consecutive times. Selena signed with Capitol EMI Latin in 1989, and released her self-titled debut album that same year, while her brother became her principal music producer and songwriter. Her 1990 album Ven Conmigo became the first recording by a female Tejano artist to achieve gold status by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Selena released Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart for eight consecutive months. The album's commercial success led music critics to name the album as her "breakthrough" recording of her musical career. One of its singles, "Como La Flor", became one of her signature and most popular songs. Her Live! (1993) album won Best Mexican/American Album at the 1994 Grammy Awards, becoming the first recording by a Tejano artist to do so. In 1994 Selena released Amor Prohibido, which became one of the best-selling Latin albums in the United States. The album was critically acclaimed as being responsible for Tejano music's first marketable era in its history as it became one of the most popular Latin music genres at the time. Selena began recording English-language songs for her crossover album.

Aside from music, Selena was active in her community and donated her time to civic causes. Coca-Cola named her their spokesperson in Texas, and Selena became a sex icon, despite her comments on being a role model for young women, which she was often criticized for wearing suggestive outfits. Selena and her guitarist, Chris Pérez, eloped in April 1992 after Quintanilla, Jr. raised concerns over their relationship. On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldívar her friend and former employee of her boutiques. Hispanics reacted negatively to the news of her death, and was compared to the death reactions of John Lennon, Elvis Presley, and US president John F. Kennedy. Her posthumous crossover album, Dreaming of You (1995), debuted atop the Billboard 200, becoming the first Latin artist to accomplish this feat. Two weeks after her death, George W. Bush (governor of Texas at the time) declared her birthday Selena Day in Texas. In 1997, Warner Bros. released a film about her life and career, which starred Jennifer Lopez as Selena. As of 2012, Selena has sold over 60 million albums worldwide.[1][2]

Life and career

1971–88: Early life and career beginnings

Selena Quintanilla was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas.[3][4] She had Cherokee ancestry,[5] and was the youngest child of Marcella Ofelia Quintanilla (née Samora) and Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. a former Mexican American musician.[6] Selena was raised as a Jehovah's Witness.[7] Abraham noticed Selena's musical abilities when she was six years old. He told People magazine "Her timing, her pitch were perfect, I could see it from day one."[8] In 1980, Abraham opened his first Tex-Mex restaurant in Lake Jackson where Selena and her siblings—Abraham III on bass guitar and Suzette Quintanilla on drums, and Selena singing—would often perform.[8] The following year, the restaurant was forced to close after the recession due to the Texas oil bust of 1980. The family declared bankruptcy, and were evicted from their home.[8][9] They settled in Corpus Christi, Texas, while Quintanilla, Jr. began promoting the newly formed band Selena y Los Dinos as the band's manager.[8][10][11] They needed money and played wherever they could get a gig. They performed at street corners, weddings, quinceañeras and fairs.[8][12]

Because the demands of her performance and travel schedule began to interfere with her education as her popularity as a singer grew, her father took her out of school when she was in the eighth grade.[13] Selena's teacher Marilyn Greer disapproved of Selena's musical career.[14] She threatened to report Quintanilla, Jr. to the Texas Board of Education believing that the conditions Selena was exposed to were inappropriate for a girl her age, which he in turn told her to "mind her business". Other teachers expressed their concerns when they noticed how tired Selena would be when she arrived at school.[14] At seventeen, Selena earned a high school diploma from The American School of Correspondence in Chicago,[15] and was also accepted at Louisiana State University.[16] However, Selena enrolled at Pacific Western University taking up business administration as her major.[17]

Quintanilla, Jr. refurbished an old bus which he named "Big Bertha" which became the family's tour bus.[18] In the first years of touring, the family sang for food and barely had enough to pay gas.[18] In 1984, Selena recorded her first LP record Selena y Los Dinos, for Freddie Records.[19] Selena recorded Tejano music compositions, despite her wishes on wanting to record English-language recordings. As a male-dominate genre,[20] Tejano music—a Spanish-language music genre popularized by Mexicans in the United States with German influences[21] of polka, jazz, and country music,[22] was coined by Quintanilla, Jr. who believed that Selena should record musical compositions of her heritage.[23] During the recording sessions for the album, Selena had to learn Spanish phonetically and with guidance from her father.[24] The album helped Selena to appear on the Johnny Canales Show, a popular Spanish-language music show in 1985, she would then continue to guest star for several years. Selena was discovered by Rick Trevi founder of the Tejano Music Awards where she won the Female Vocalist of the Year award in 1987 and eight consecutive years after that.[25] The band was often turned down by venues across Texas because of their age and because Selena was their lead singer.[26] By 1988, Selena had released five more LP records; Alpha (1986), Munequito de Trapo (1987), And the Winner is... (1987), Preciosa (1988), and Dulce Amor (1988).[27]

1989–90: Self-titled album and relationship with Pérez

Chris Pérez (far right) and Selena began a relationship, despite her father's disapproval.

Jose Behar of newly formed label EMI Latin Records, together with the new head of Sony Music Latin, watched Selena perform at the 1989 Tejano Music Awards.[28] Behar was searching for new Latin acts and wanted to sign Selena to EMI's Capitol Records, while Sony Music Latin was offering twice Capitol's sum to Quintanilla, Jr.[28] Behar thought that he had discovered the "next Gloria Estefan" but his superior called Behar illogical since he had been in South Texas less than a week.[13][29] Quintanilla, Jr. chose EMI Latin's offer because of the potential for a crossover album, and becoming their first artist that signed with them.[30] Before Selena began recording for her debut album, Behar and Stephen Finfer requested a crossover album for Selena.[31] She recorded three English-language compositions for the heads of EMI's pop division. Behar and Finfer's request for a crossover album was denied and Selena was told that she needed a bigger fan base to sell such an album.[32] Behar thought that EMI Records and the public did not believe that a Mexican American woman could have "crossover potential".[29]

Selena released her self-titled debut album on October 17, 1989. Selena recorded most of the songs in San Antonio, Texas at AMEN Studios, while "Sukiyaki" and "My Love" were recorded in Houston, Texas at Sunrise Studios. Selena wrote "My Love", and wanted the song to be included on her first recording. Her brother, Quintanilla III became her principal record producer and songwriter for most of Selena's musical career.[33] The only tracks Quintanilla III did not write on her debut album were "Sukiyaki", "Contigo Quiero Estar", and "No Te Vayas". The former was an original 1960s Japanese recording by Kyu Sakamoto. The lyrics Selena used were a Spanish version of an English version of the song by Janice Marie Johnson.[34] The lead single, "Contigo Quiero Estar", peaked at number eight on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart, while the album peaked at number seven on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart,[35] becoming Selena's first single and album to debut on a national music chart.[36] Her self-titled recording performed better than albums from other female Tejano singers at the time.[36]

In the same year, Coca-Cola wanted Selena to become one of their spokespeople in Texas.[37] The jingle used in her first two commercials for the company were composed by Quintanilla III and Chris Pérez—who joined Selena y Los Dinos several months earlier as the band's new guitarist.[38] Pérez began having romantic feelings for Selena, despite having a girlfriend back at San Antonio.[39] After a Mexico trip with the band, Pérez thought it would be best for him and Selena if he tried to distance himself from her, but found it difficult and decided to try building a relationship with her.[40] They expressed their feelings for each other at a Pizza Hut restaurant, and shortly afterwards became a couple.[41][42] Pérez and Selena hid their relationship, fearing that Quintanilla, Jr. would try to break them up.[43][44]

1990–91: Ven Conmigo and the Selena fan club

Selena released her second studio album, Ven Conmigo in 1990. The album yielded Selena's first gold album by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of 50,000 copies. Ven Conmigo became the first album by a female Tejano singer to reach gold status in the United States.[45] The album produced three singles; "Ya Ves", "La Tracalera", and "Baila Esta Cumbia".[46] The latter, a Mexican cumbia song, became one of Selena's biggest hit singles. Its popularity grew in Mexico where a compilation album bearing the single's name was released there, the recording was certified platinum by the Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (AMPROFON), denoting sales of 150,000 units.[47][48]

A registered nurse and fan named Yolanda Saldívar asked Quintanilla, Jr. to start a fan club in San Antonio.[49] Saldívar had the idea after she had attended one of Selena's concerts. Quintanilla, Jr. approved Saldívar's request, he believed the fan club would bring more exposure for the band. Saldívar soon became a close friend to Selena and the family, she was trusted and became the acting president of the fan club in 1991.[50] That same year, Salvadoran singer Álvaro Torres composed a duet he wanted to record with Selena.[28] The song "Buenos Amigos" was produced by Enrique Elizondo and was released on Torres' tenth studio album Nada Se Compara Contigo (1991).[51] The recording peaked at number one on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart, giving Selena her first number one single. The music video for "Buenos Amigos" earned Selena and Torres two nominations at the 1992 Billboard Music Awards.[52] The track was nominated for Duo of the Year at the 1992 Tejano Music Awards.[53] Deborah Parédez wrote in her book Selenidad, that the track enabled Selena to tour the west and east coasts of the United States.[54] According to John Lannert of Billboard magazine, the song was helped by increased airplay on regional Mexican and Tejano radio stations, which had previously dismissed Selena's recordings.[55]

1992–93: Elopement, Entre a Mi Mundo, and Selena Live

Selena's sister Suzette, found Selena and Pérez flirting with each other and immediately informed their father.[56] Quintanilla, Jr. took Pérez off the bus and told him that his and Selena's relationship was over.[57] Selena and Pérez continued their relationship despite Quintanilla, Jr's disapproval;[58][59] Selena's mother, Marcella, approved of their relationship.[60] Quintanilla, Jr. spotted Selena and Pérez romantically together on the bus, he pulled over and an argument between him and Selena ensued. He called Pérez a "cancer in my family", and threatened to disband the group if they continued their relationship.[61] Selena and Pérez relented; Quintanilla, Jr. fired him from the band, and prevented Selena from running off with him.[62] After Pérez was fired from the band he and Selena secretly continued their relationship. On the morning of April 2, 1992, Selena and Pérez decided to elope, believing that Quintanilla, Jr. would never approve of their relationship.[61][63] Selena believed that Quintanilla, Jr. would leave her and Pérez alone if they were married, and they would not have to hide their feelings for each other. Within hours of their marriage, the media announced Selena and Pérez' elopement.[64] Selena's family tried to track her down; Quintanilla, Jr. did not take the news well, and alienated himself for some time.[64] Selena and Pérez moved into an apartment together in Corpus Christi.[65] Quintanilla, Jr. approached Pérez, apologized, accepted the marriage and took Pérez back into the band.[66]

A month after her elopement, Selena released her third studio album, Entre a Mi Mundo, in May 1992. The album was critically acclaim for being a "breakthrough album" for Selena.[67][68][69] The recording peaked at number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart for eight consecutive months,[70] it was certified 6x Platinum by the RIAA for shipments of 600,000 copies.[71] In Mexico, the recording was certified gold for sales of 300,000 units.[72] Entre a Mi Mundo became the first Tejano album by a female artist to sell over 300,000 copies.[a] Selena outsold male Tejano singers with her album, according to editors of the Miami Herald and the San Jose Mercury News.[75][76] The album produced four singles; "Como La Flor", "¿Qué Creías?", "La Carcacha", and "Amame". The lead single, "Como La Flor", became Selena's signature recording,[77] and was critically acclaim by music critics as being a career launcher for Selena.[78] "Como La Flor" helped Selena to dominate the Latin music charts and become immensely popular in Mexico, where Mexican-Americans were generally not liked among citizens, which was well received by critics.[79] The track was nominated for Song of the Year at the 1993 Tejano Music Awards.[80] The single peaked at number six on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart.[81]

Selena released Live! in 1993, it was recorded during a free concert at the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, on February 7, 1993.[82] The recording included previously released tracks which were sung live and three studio recordings; "No Debes Jugar", "La Llamada", and a duet with Tejano musician Emilio Navaira on "Tú Robaste Mi Corazón". The recordings "No Debes Jugar" and "La Llamada" peaked within the top five on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart.[83][83] Live! won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Album at the 36th Grammy Awards.[73] In May 1994, Live! was named Album of the Year by the Billboard Latin Music Awards.[84] At the 1994 Tejano Music Awards, Live! won Album of the Year,[85] while at the 1994 Lo Nuestro Awards it was nominated for Regional Mexican Album of the Year.[86] Live! was certified gold by the RIAA for shipments of 500,000 copies, while in Mexico it sold 250,000 units.[87] Selena briefly played opposite Erik Estrada in a Mexican telenovela titled Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.[49] In 1995 she entered negotiations to star in another telenovela produced by Emilio Larrosa.[49] She appeared in two episodes which achieved a record rating for the series.[49]

1994–95: Fashion venture, film debut, and Amor Prohibido

Aside from music, Selena began designing and manufacturing a clothing line in 1994 and opened two boutiques called Selena Etc., one in Corpus Christi and the other in San Antonio. Both were equipped with in-house beauty salons.[88] She was in negoitations to open more stores in Monterrey, Mexico and Puerto Rico.[89] Saldivar served as the manager for both boutiques after the Quintanilla family were impressed with the way she managed the fan club.[90] Hispanic Business magazine reported that the singer earned over five million dollars from these boutiques.[91] She became the top twentieth wealthiest Hispanic musicians who grossed the highest incomes in 1993 and 1994.[92] Selena released her fifth studio album, Amor Prohibido, in March 1994. The recording debuted at number three on the US Billboard Top Latin Albums chart[93] and number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums charts.[94] After peaking at number on the Top Latin Albums chart, the recording remained in the top five for the reminder of the year and into early 1995.[95] Amor Prohibido became the second Tejano album to reach year-end sales of 500,000 copies, which previously only been accomplished by La Mafia,[96][97] and became one of the best-selling Latin albums in the United States.[98][99] The album spawned four number one singles; the title track, "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", "No Me Queda Más", and "Fotos Y Recuerdos".[b] The album was certified double Platinum by the RIAA for shipments of two million copies in the United States.[102] Amor Prohibido was among the best selling US albums of 1995.[103] Amor Prohibido was named on Tom Moon's list of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List (2008).[104]

The album's success made Tejano music popular among a younger and wider audience than at any other time in its history.[105][106] The two singles, "No Me Queda Más" and the title track were the most successful US Latin singles of 1994 and 1995, respectively, according to Billboard magazine.[107][108] The album's commercial success led Amor Prohibido a Grammy nomination for Best Mexican/American Album at the 37th Grammy Awards in 1995.[109] It won Record of the Year at the 1995 Tejano Music Awards[85] and Regional/Mexican Album of the Year at the 1995 Lo Nuestro Awards.[96] Selena was named "one of Latin music's most successful touring acts" during her Amor Prohibido tour.[110] After Amor Prohibido '​s release Selena was considered "bigger than Tejano itself", and broke barriers in the Latin music world.[111] She was called the "Queen of Tejano music" by many media outlets.[c] Sales of the album and its titular single represented Tejano music's first commercial success in Puerto Rico.[111] Selena recorded a duet with the Barrio Boyzz entitled "Donde Quiera Que Estes", released on their album of the same name in 1994. The song got to number one on the Top Latin Songs chart,[118] which enabled Selena to tour in New York City, Argentina, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Central America, where she was not well known.[119][120] In late 1994, EMI chairman Charles Koppelman felt that Selena had succeed her goals in the Spanish-speaking market. He wanted to propel Selena as an English-language American solo pop artist. Selena continued touring while EMI began preparing the crossover album with Grammy Award winning composers.[121] By the time Selena performed to a record-breaking sold out concert at the Houston Astrodome in February 1995, work had already begun on her crossover album.[121] In 1995, Selena made a cameo appearance in Don Juan DeMarco, which starred Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway.[122]


The Quintanilla family named Saldivar the manager of Selena's boutiques in early 1994.[50] Eight months later, Selena signed Saldívar as her registered agent in San Antonio, Texas. After the agreement, Saldivar moved from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to be closer to Selena.[90] In December 1994, the boutiques began to suffer after the number of staff for both stores decreased.[123] According to staff members, Saldivar largely fired anyone she personally did not like.[124] Staff members at the store constantly complained about Saldivar's behavior to Selena who dismissed the claims, believing that her "friend" wouldn't negatively impose on her fashion venture.[124] According to Quintanilla, Jr. the staff then turned their attention to him and began informing him about Saldivar. Quintanilla, Jr. took the claims serious and informed Selena to "be careful" and that Saldivar may not be a good influence.[124] She dismissed her father's inquires since he had always distrusted people in the past.[124] By January 1995, claims from Selena's cousin, her fashion designer Martin Gomez, and clients, expressed their concerns over Saldivar's behavior and management skills.[124][125] During an interview with Saldívar in 1995, reporters from The Dallas Morning News believed that Saldívar's devotion to Selena bordered on obsession.[90]

According to Quintanilla, Jr. it was not until January when he began receiving phone calls from fans who reportedly paid their membership for the Selena fan club and received nothing, that he began an investigation.[126] Upon investigation, Quintanilla, Jr. discovered that Saldívar was embezzling more than $60,000 in forged checks from both the fan club and the boutiques.[126] Quintanilla, Jr. held a meeting the night of March 9 with Selena and Suzette, at Q-Productions to confront Saldívar. Quintanilla, Jr. presented Saldívar with the inconsistencies concerning the disappearing funds. Quintanilla, Jr. told Saldívar that if she didn't come up with evidence that disproved his accusations, then he was going to get the police involved. Quintanilla, Jr. banned Saldivar from having any contact with Selena.[126] However, Selena did not want to dissolve their friendship; she felt that Saldívar was essential to whether the clothing line would take off in Mexico. Selena also wanted to keep Saldívar close because she had bank records, statements and financial records necessary for tax preparation.[126]

On the morning of March 31, 1995, Selena met up with Saldivar at her Days Inn motel room in Corpus Christi.[10] At the motel, Selena demanded the financial papers; Saldívar delayed the handover by claiming she had been raped in Mexico.[13] The singer then drove Saldívar to Doctors Regional Hospital where doctors found no evidence of rape.[127] At 11:48 am, Saldívar drew the gun from her purse[128] and pointed it at Selena.[129] As Selena attempted to flee, Saldívar shot her once on the right lower shoulder, severing an artery and resulting in a massive loss of blood.[129] Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby, leaving a trail of blood 392 feet (119 m) long.[129] She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called 9-1-1, with Saldívar still chasing after her and calling her a "bitch".[130] Before collapsing, she named Saldívar as her assailant and gave the number of the room where she had been shot.[131] Meanwhile, Saldívar got into her pickup truck and attempted to leave the motel. However, she was spotted by a responding police cruiser.[129] Saldívar surrendered after nearly nine-and-a-half hours of a standoff between police and the FBI.[10] By that time, hundreds of fans had gathered at the scene; many wept as police took Saldívar away.[10][129] Since the bullet had pierced an artery, after 50 minutes the doctors realized that the damage was irreparable. Selena was pronounced dead at 1:05 pm from blood loss and cardiac arrest.[129][132]


Selena's murder had a widespread impact. Her death reaction was compared to the deaths of musicians John Lennon, Elvis Presley, and the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy.[133][73] Major networks interrupted their regular programming to break the news; Tom Brokaw referred to Selena as "The Mexican Madonna".[134] It was front page news on The New York Times for two days after her death.[135] Numerous vigils and memorials were held in her honor, and radio stations in Texas played her music non-stop.[13] Her funeral drew 60,000 mourners, many of whom traveled from outside the United States.[13] The news struck the Hispanic community extremely hard; many traveled thousands of miles to Selena's house, boutiques and the crime scene.[136][137] By mid-afternoon, police were asked to form a detour as a line of automobiles began backing up traffic from the Quintanillas' houses.[138] Among the celebrities who were reported to have contact the Quintanilla family to express their condolences were Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, Julio Iglesias, and Madonna.[139] Other celebrities took to radio stations to expressed their thoughts about Selena's death, including Stefanie Ridel, Jaime DeAnda (of Los Chamacos), and Shelly Lares.[140] A People magazine issue was released several days after her murder. Its publishers believed that interest would soon wane; they released a commemorative issue within a week when it became apparent that it was growing. The issue sold nearly a million copies,[141] selling the entire first and second run within two weeks. It became a collector's item, a first in the history of People.[142] Betty Cortina, editor of People, told Biography that they never had an issue that was completely sold out; "it was unheard of".[142] In the following months the company released People en Español (aimed at the Hispanic market), due to the success of the Selena issue.[142] This was followed by Newsweek en Espanol and Latina magazine.[143]

A few days later, Howard Stern mocked Selena's murder and burial, poked fun at her mourners, and criticized her music. Stern said, "This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul ... Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth." Stern's comments outraged and infuriated the Hispanic community in Texas.[144] Stern played Selena's songs with gunshots in the background.[145][146] After a disorderly conduct arrest warrant was issued in his name, Stern made an on-air statement, in Spanish, for his comments that he stressed were not made to cause "more anguish to her family, friends and those who loved her."[147][148] The League of United Latin American Citizens boycotted Stern's show, finding his apology unacceptable.[149] Texas retailers removed any products that were related with Stern, while Sears and McDonalds sent out a disapproval letter to the media that addressed their stance against Stern's comments, after fans believed they sponsored his show.[150] Within a week, on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Stern and Robin Quivers (his African-American co-host) were asked if Stern's remarks about Selena were acceptable. Quivers decided not to talk about the situation, to avoid arguing with Stern. When Linda Ronstadt (a pop singer of Mexican-American heritage) appeared on the show, she and Quivers quickly got into an argument when Ronstadt defended Selena.[151]

On April 12, 1995, two weeks after her death, George W. Bush (governor of Texas at the time) declared her birthday Selena Day in Texas.[37][152][153] Some European Americans in Texas wrote to the editor of the Brazosport Facts during April and May, asking what the big deal was; some were also offended that Selena Day fell on Easter Sunday. Others agreed that "Easter is more important than Selena Day", and believed that everyone should let Selena rest in peace and go on with their lives.[154] Mexican Americans in Texas wrote vociferously to the newspaper. Some agreed that others were too critical of Selena Day, and stated that they didn't need to celebrate the day and should not have responded so rudely.[155] In October 1995, a Houston jury convicted Saldívar of first degree murder and sentenced her to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 2025.[156][157] Under a judge's order, the gun used to kill Selena was destroyed in 2002, and the pieces thrown into Corpus Christi Bay.[158][159] However, fans and historians disapproved of the decision to destroy the gun citing that the event was historical and the gun should have been in a museum.[17]


Selena's vocal range was soprano.[160] In an April 1995 interview with Billboard magazine, Behar explained that he saw Selena as a "cross between Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston in style, feel, and vocal range."[161] Although Selena did not write most of her songs, she incorporated R&B,[162] Latin pop, techno-pop,[163] country western, and disco into her Tejano music repertoire.[164] Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News, writes that Selena "merges Tejano's infectious cumbia rhythm with street-savvy R&B, old-school soul, dancehall reggae, sizzling salsa, and trippy, loopy funk." during her musical career.[165] Selena's recordings expressed "love and pain, as well as strength and passion." according to Charles Tatum.[166] She also recorded independently driven, female-empowerment themed compositions; "Si La Quieres", "¿Qué Creias?", "Ya Ves" and "Ya No", which centered around wrongful relationships and empowering battered women.[167] Peter Watrous of The New York Times believed that Selena's voice "sometimes quivered" and that she "roughed it up a bit. At its best, it had a coolness, a type of unadorned passion".[168] Ilan Stavans called her music as "cursi--melodramatic, cheesy, overemotional, not too far from Juan Gabriel and a relative of Iglesias."[169] Richard Corliss of Time magazine believed that her songs "are perky, cheerful rather than soulful." and that earlier recordings "with their tinny, Tijuana Brass charts, and keyboards that evoke calliopes, are ideal for the fairground or merry-go-round." Corliss calls Selena's singing as an "expert mimicry of everything from Edith Piaf's melodramatic contralto to the coloratura riffs of Mariah Carey. But the sounds are still lightly Hispanic."[170]

"Dreaming of You", an English-language recording, became one of four English cuts Selena recorded for her crossover from Spanish into English pop music.

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Newsweek magazine called Selena's English offerings as "a blend of urban pop and Latin warmth."[171] Texas Monthly believed that Selena's brother modernized her music into more "funk and hip hop".[172] Selena's use of emotive range during her musical career has been praised by critics as being her trademark.[173][174] For Ven Conmigo (1990), Quintanilla III wrote more Cumbia-influenced recordings, which Ramiro Burr of Billboard praised as being Selena's "increasing prowess".[175] Italian essayist, Gaetano Prampolini, wrote that "Selena's voice projected a sonorous warmth and joyfulness." during her review on her Cumbia recordings in her book The Shade of the Saguaro / La sombra del saguaro (2013).[176] In his review of the remix album, Enamorada de Ti (2012), Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that Selena's songs were "rooted in the '90s and sound that way", and altering the recordings to "update it" was unfeasible.[177]

Public image

Quintanilla, Jr. sought out to maintain Selena's image clean and family-oriented.[178] In 1989, Selena was asked to sponsor beer companies, however, her father turned them down.[142] Selena was often turned down from Tejano venues because she was a female singer in a male-dominated music scene.[179] Manuel Peña wrote in his book Música Tejana: The Cultural Economy of Artistic Transformation, that after 1989, Selena's popularity increased and she became a sex icon following her EMI Latin debut album.[178] Charles Tatum asserted that most of the attention on Selena were her "beauty, sexuality, and youthful impact on the Tejano music scene."[166] Selena responded on her growing image as a sex icon, commenting that she never wanted to record suggestive songs because of the way she was brought up and that her fan base consisted largely of young children, who looked up to Selena as a role model.[180] She further commented on the question of her sexual appeal to men during her crossover attempt, asserting that she will "stay the same" and that her English-language recordings will refrain from foul language and themes on sex.[180] María Celeste Arrarás wrote in her 1997 investigative book on Selena's death, that the singer was a "sweet and charismatic girl".[181] According to Arrarás, Selena "trusted everyone" who often went to the mall alone, despite her father's concerns over her safety.[182]

Betty Cortina of People magazine, commented on Selena's provocative choice of clothing as an acceptable emulation of Janet Jackson and Madonna, and said that she "[wore] sexy outfits that extenuated a body of a Latina woman."[142][183] Cortina also stated that Selena had a "flamboyant style, an unbelievable body, curves and booty."[142] Arrarás wrote that Selena "began wearing clothes designed to emphasize her curvaceous figure." and that she "never came across as cheap-simply sexy."[184] She also commented on her makeup regimen as not being "painted up or vulgar."[184] Arrarás also noted her "fun-loving stage manner" and that she was "playful onstage and off."[185] Matt S. Meier wrote in his book The Mexican American Experience: An Encyclopedia (2010), that Selena exhibited "contagious energy" during her concerts and that she displayed "warmth, passion, and sexuality" while exuded a "down-to-Earth persona of the wholesome young girl next door."[186] Selena was known to wear outfits that accented her physical attributes and was also not afraid to wear costumes or outfits that she liked,[142] despite criticism from parents of young children who felt that Selena's choice of outfits were inappropriate for young girls who began emulating Selena.[187] Selena's views on public image in the fashion industry were bothersome, she explained that she was against the image that all woman should be "rail-thin" and the notion that they must wear certain outfits and be "super-young to be beautiful."[188]

In the early 1990s, Selena began wearing decorative bustiers, spandex or tight pants, and attractive unbutton jackets during her concerts.[187] She was inspired by Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, and Madonna.[187] During a 1992 interview, Selena expressed that her choice of clothing does not reflect who she is as a person.[142] NBC News called Selena's outfit "provocative".[189] Because of her choice of outfits and dance moves, she was named by her fans as the "Mexican Madonna".[190][191] According to Suzette, Selena often designed and sow her own outfits backstage with her designers, moments before she is due to be on stage.[142] Quintanilla, Jr. disapproved of Selena's outfits, however, he later accepted it when Selena discussed about it being a fashion trend.[142] Selena became an inactive member of the Jehovah's Witnesses due to her exotic clothing.[192] During the photo shoot for Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), a photographer remarked on how Selena's choice of clothing effected Quintanilla, Jr. tremendously who often left sessions when Selena would appear in suggestive outfits.[193] Selena was credited as being the first women to change the minds of people about feminine beauty, she also started that movement, and was also trailblazing for other female artists during her career.[142][194]

Following Selena's death, the singer grew criticism from celebrities who question her role model status among Hispanic women. Hispanic filmmaker Lourdes Portillo expressed concerns on whether or not Selena was a great role model to young women in her documentary about the singer in 1999.[195] Portillo believed that Selena was sending the wrong message to young girls by dancing in clothing that suggests hypersexualization.[196] American author Sandra Cisneros, agrees with Portillo's assessment that Selena "is not a good role model to Latina women".[197] Media outlets also shared Portillo's comments and believed that the "fairy tale story" of Selena is one that her family would want to preserve, questioning Quintanilla, Jr.'s role for pushing an image that Selena had "never made mistakes" into the media, calling it "lies" and "not the real story".[198][199]


During her childhood Selena helped organizations such as Toys for Tots.[200] Selena was active in the Latino community in the United States.[201] She visited local schools to talk to students about the importance of education.[201] She attended and educated a gathering of two-hundred high school students in Fulmore Junior High School in Austin, about positive attitudes and setting life-goals for achievements in their adult life.[200] Selena urged children to stay in school throughout her talk sessions in school districts in Texas, she also told children that alcohol and drugs will lead them no where in life.[202] She spent her free time helping her community. Selena performed in Washington D.C. to celebrate the forming of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.[201] Following the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, Selena helped victims in Florida by performing at a Houston benefit concert.[201][119]

In August 1994, Selena hosted a charity baseball game to raise money for unspecified charities.[203] She also donated her time to civic organizations such as D.A.R.E. and planned a fund raising concert to help AIDS patients.[17] Selena participated with the Texas Prevention Partnership which was sponsored by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Dep Corporation), which released an educational video that was sent to students for free.[17] Her pro-education videos included "My Music" and "Selena Agrees". She was in the works for a Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas Boys & Girls Clubs of America benefit concert.[17]

In January 1995, Selena headlined the Teach the Children festival in the Mercado in San Antonio. The concert funded a non-profit program to provide school supplies to needy children.[119] Selena was a spokesperson for battered woman who were in an abusive relationship.[204] She also helped out at homeless shelters for children and adults.[119] According to the A&E television series Biography, Selena's fans were minorities in the world and encouraged them to be the best they can be.[142] Her biggest fear was that no one would come watch her perform at her concerts.[205]

Legacy and influence

Selena has been credited for helping redefine Latin music[206] and its subgenres of Tejano,[207][208] Cumbia, and Latin pop.[209][210] Selena broke unprecedented barriers in the Latin music world.[160][211][212] She was considered "one of the most significant Mexican American singers of the end of the twentieth century."[213] Selena also became one of the "most celebrated cultural products" in the United States and Mexico borders.[214] Hispanics elevated Selena into sainthood,[214][215][216][217] with Arrarás expressing that any negative attributes from anyone in regards to the singer was a death wish.[217] Selena was called the "Queen of Tejano music", described as "the most important and popular Tejano star of all time."[218] Her death marked "the most devastating loss" in Tejano music history.[212] At the time of her death, Selena became one of the most widely known Mexican-American vocal artists[219][220] and most popular Latin artist in the United States.[220] She had a "cult-like" following among Hispanics.[221] Latin Post called the singer "one of the most iconic artists in Latin American music history",[222] while The New York Times called her "arguably the most important Latina musician in the country, on her way to becoming one of the most important, period."[223] Selena became a household name in the United States and in Mexico following her death and became part of the American pop culture.[223][224] She became more popular in death than when she was alive.[225][226] Her popularity after death among the Hispanic population was compared to the popularity of Marilyn Monroe and Madonna in Anglo-Americans.[227] Selena was named "one of the most popular Latina singers of the 1990s."[228] Selena's popularity were drawn in by the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community and minority groups of the United States.[229] Tejano music has not recovered since her murder, its popularity wane following Selena's death.[230][231] John Lannert of Billboard stated that when Selena died the "Tejano market died with her." in an interview with Biography in 2007.[142]

Selena's crossover album that she was working on at the time of her death, Dreaming of You, was released posthumously in July 1995. The recording sold 175,000 copies its day of release in the U.S.—a then-record for a female vocalist—and sold 331,000 copies its first week.[232][233] Selena became the third female artist in history to sell over 300,000 units in one week, after Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey.[234] It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first album by a Hispanic artist to do so.[235][236][237] Dreaming of You helped Selena to become the first solo artist to debut a posthumous album at number one.[238] The recording was among the top ten best-selling debuts for a musician, and was the best-selling debut by a female act.[239] Dreaming of You joined five of Selena's studio albums on the Billboard 200 chart simultaneously, making Selena the first female artist in Billboard history to accomplish this feat.[240] The album was certified 35x platinum by the RIAA, for shipping more than 3.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.[241][242] As of 2015, the recording has sold five million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling Latin album of all-time in the United States.[243] Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle commented in 2008 that its lead single, "I Could Fall in Love", had "made the Tejano goddess a posthumous crossover star".[244] Her death was believed to have sparked an interest in Latin music by people who were unaware of its existence.[245][246][247] It was also believed that her death had "open the doors" to other Latin musicians such as Jennifer Lopez,[248] Ricky Martin, and Shakira.[249]

In the same year, the United States Social Security Administration ranked the name Selena one of the 100 most popular names for newborn girls.[250] In December 1999, Selena was named the "top Latin artist of the '90s" and "Best selling Latin artist of the decade" by Billboard for her fourteen top-ten singles in the Top Latin Songs chart, including seven number-one hits.[251] She was the best-selling Latin female singer of the 1990s in the US and Mexico.[252] Selena was named "Best Female Vocalist of the '80s" and "Best Female Vocalist of the '90s" at the 2010 Tejano Music Awards.[85] There has been continuing belief that Selena would have achieved greater career success had it not been for her death.[77][253][254] Selena's work has influenced a number of entertainers including Beyoncé,[255] Demi Lovato,[255] Lady Gaga,[256] Nelly Furtado, Ricky Martin,[257] Paula DeAnda, Yolanda Perez,[258] 3LW,[259] Marc Anthony,[162] Christina Aguilera, Shakira,[257] Ivy Queen,[260] Fanny Lú, Don Omar, Kat Deluna,[255] Eva Longoria,[261] Wyclef Jean,[262] Daddy Yankee,[255] Aventura,[263] Jennifer Pena,[255] Angelo Garcia,[264] Jenni Rivera,[265] David Archuleta,[255] Tito Nieves, Manny Manuel,[266] Girl in a Coma,[267] Karen Rodriguez,[268] Solange Knowles,[269] Katy Perry,[255] Drake,[270] Ashlee Simpson,[271] Q'orianka Kilcher,[244] Selena Gomez,[255] Enrique Iglesias,[257] Becky G,[272] and Meghan Trainor.[273] Mariah Carey remarked on her death during an interview with MTV stating that Selena's death was shocking to her because of "the way it had happened so abruptly in a young life."[274] George W. Bush, who declared April 16 as Selena Day in Texas, said that Selena represented "the essence of south Texas culture." who never forgot where she came from.[275] Talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, called Selena's life "short but significant" during her March 1997 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.[276]

Posthumous film and honors

In the months following her death, a number of honors and tributes were erected. Several proposals were brought into question such as renaming streets, public parks, food products,[277] and auditoriums.[278] The Spirit of Hope Award was created in Selena's honor in 1996,[279] and was awarded to Latin artists who participated in humanitarian and civic causes.[280] On March 16, 2011, the United States Post Office released a "Latin Legends" memorial stamp to honor Selena, Carlos Gardel, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and Carmen Miranda.[281] In February 2014, the Albany, NY Times Union named her one of "100 Coolest Americans in History".[282] In 1997 Selena was commemorated with a museum and a bronze life-sized statue (Mirador de la Flor in Corpus Christi), which are visited by hundreds of fans each week.[283]

Selena was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame,[284] the Hard Rock Cafe's Hall of Fame in 1995,[99] the South Texas Music Hall of Fame,[89] and the Tejano Music Hall of Fame in 2001.[186] She was named one of the 20 most influential Texans of all time.[89] She was ranked fifth of the "100 most influential Latin musicians of the 20th century" according to the Orange County Register.[285] The singer has been called a slew of honorific titles by media outlets; including the "Queen of Latin music",[286] the "Chicana Elvis",[287] the "Queen of hybrid pop culture", the "Hispanic Marilyn Monroe",[169] the "Tupac Shakur of Latin music",[288] the "Corpus Christi queen",[289] and the "people's princess".[290][291] She has been compared to Madonna by the media more than any other celebrity,[292] in terms of her fashion sense.[10][293]

Mexican actress Salma Hayek was originally asked to play the role of Selena in a biopic film produced by the Quintanilla family and Warner Bros.[294] Hayek turned the role down, feeling that it was "too early" to base a movie on Selena and that it would be too emotional since Selena's death was still being covered on national television.[295][296] Puerto Rican American actress Jennifer Lopez replaced Hayek, which drew criticism because of her ancestry.[297] Over 21,000 people auditioned for the title role, becoming the second largest turn out since the search for Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind in 1939.[298][299] Gregory Nava served as the director for the film, which was released on March 21, 1997. After the film's release, fans changed their views on Lopez after seeing her performance in the movie. Selena opened in 1,850 theaters worldwide and grossed $11,615,722, making it the second-highest debut for that week.[300] With a production budget of $20 million, the film grossed a total of $35 million domestically.[300] The film was a commercial and critical success[301] and is often cited by critics as Lopez' breakout role.[302][303] Lopez catapulted into pop culture and the film's success was credited as helping Lopez become a recognized Latin entertainer.[225][304]

Selena's family and her former band, Los Dinos, held a tribute concert a week after the 10th anniversary of her murder on April 7, 2005. The concert, entitled Selena ¡VIVE!, was broadcast live on Univision and achieved a 35.9 household rating. It was the highest-rated and most-viewed Spanish-language television special in the history of American television. The special was also the number-one program (regardless of language) among adults ages 18 to 34 in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco; it tied for first in New York, beating that night's episode of Fox's American Idol.[305] Among Hispanic viewers, Selena ¡VIVE! outperformed Super Bowl XLV between the Packers and the Steelers and the telenovela Soy Tu Dueña during the "most-watched NFL season ever among Hispanics".[306][307]

In 1999, a Broadway-bound musical entitled Selena was scheduled to premiere in San Antonio in March 2000 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her murder. Broadway producers Tom Quinn, Jerry Frankel, Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Vega staged the musical,[308] and Edward Gallardo wrote the show's book and lyrics. Fernando Rivas composed the show's songs. In 2000, Selena Forever was first produced for a 30-city national tour with a budget of over US$2 million.[308] After a national casting call, producers chose Veronica Vasquez to portray Selena; Vasquez alternated in the role with Rebecca Valdez.[309] The musical previewed on March 21, and opened on March 23 at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.[310]




Year Title Role Notes
1995 Don Juan DeMarco Mariachi singer Minor role/cameo appearance (posthumous release)


Appearances as self in life

Year Title Role Notes
1984-1994 Johnny Canales Show herself Music performer guest
1986—1995 Tejano Music Awards herself Honoree
1993 Dos Mujeres, un Camino herself Appeared in two episodes
1994 Sábado gigante herself Talk show guest
1994 Cristina Show herself Talk show guest
1995 Latin Nights herself TV documentary

Tribute concerts, biographical programming, and catalog releases

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Selena Remembered herself Documentary
1997 The Final Notes herself Documentary
1998 Behind The Music herself Episode: Selena
2001 Selena Live! The Last Concert herself Her last televised concert that was filmed in February 1995
2001 Greatest Hits herself Music videos
2005 Selena ¡VIVE! herself Dedicatee
2007 Queen of Tejano music herself Documentary
2008 Biography herself Episode: Selena

True crime documentaries

Year Title Notes
1995 E! True Hollywood Story Episode: The Selena Murder Trail
1998 American Justice Episode: Selena Murder of a Star
2001 The Greatest Episode: 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock and Roll History
2003 101 Episode: 101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment
2010 Famous Crime Scene Episode: Selena
2012 100 Most Shocking Music Moments Documentary
2012 Reel Crime/Reel Story Episode: Selena
2014 Snapped Episode: Selena Death of a Superstar

See also


  1. ^ According to a book written by Stacy Lee, she reports sales of 300,000 units,[73] while María Celeste Arrarás wrote in her book that the album sold 385,000 units in Mexico.[74]
  2. ^ "Fotos Y Recuerdos" peaked at number one posthumously in April 1995.[100] "Amor Prohibido", "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", and "No Me Queda Mas" peaked at number one before Selena's death.[101]
  3. ^ Outlets describing Selena as "Queen of Tejano music" includes: Entertainment Weekly,[112] Billboard magazine,[113] Los Angeles Magazine,[114] Vibe magazine,[115] The Huffington Post,[116] and The New York Times.[117]


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  3. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 30.
  4. ^ Pérez Dávila, Angie (March 31, 2005). "A 10 años de la muerte de Selena". Noticieros Televisa (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 20.
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  • Novas, Himilce (1995). Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: A Reader. Turtleback Books. ISBN 0613926374. 
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External links