Selena Quintanilla Perez is one of the most influential singers of the 90s. Called the Queen of Tejano Music, her rags to riches story is phenomenal . In spite of being such a huge star, the 1971 was always accessible to her fans. She was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas (USA) to
Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. and Marcella Ofelia. She was the youngest in the family
A musical aspirant, Abraham Quintanilla Jr. encouraged his children to get into the music scenario, so that they could live his dream. He was especially confident about Selena, whom he felt had the right timing and pitch to make it big.
Traveling in a refurbished tour bus which her father used to drive around the town, the family sang and created music, for food and at times, did not even have money for gasoline. They began to play on street corners, wedding and fairs with Selena Quintanilla eventually turning out to be a crowd puller with her voice, beauty and amiable personality.
Thre was a time in the 1980s when Selena was denied booking at music venues across Texas for performing Tejano music, a male dominated genre. But she persisted and continued singing at every given opportunity. By 1986, she had won the Female Vocalist of the Year, a record number of nine consecutive times at the Tejano Music Awards.
Post her marriage to the guitarist band member Chris Perez on April 2, 1992, she became even more successful . Selena Quintanilla won the 1994 Grammy Award for the Best Mexican/American Album Award, becoming the first Tejano artist to win that prestigious award.
Selena was also known to actively participate in social causes. Ins spite of being a sex symbol, her record was squeaky clean and her fashion statement was aligned with her personality on the stage, rather than being outrageous and scandalous. By 1995, she released her first crossover English album that would meet with stupendous success. But she did not live to see its success.
Hobnobbing with fans and trusting people on their face value, unfortunately, made Selena Quintanilla Perez pay with her life. She was murdered by her very friend and manager of her boutique, Yolanda Saldivar on March 31, 1995 in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States.
How did Selena Quintanilla die?
In those days, there were ‘fan clubs’ for musicians and actors. Selena’s manager Abraham Quintanilla Jr. appointed Yolandaa as the president of his daughter’s fan club in 1991, because she had been relentlessly persuasive about it. Selena got closer to Yolanda and would buy her gifts. By 1994, Saldivar had become the manager of the singer’s boutique ‘Selena Etc’.
With time, the boutique’s employees began to complain about Saldivar’s overpowering management style. Some of the employees even quit their jobs. The Quintanillas didn’t really take the matter seriously till Abraham, in 1995, started getting angry phone calls and letters from fans who said that they were not getting the benefits even after making membership payments to the fan clubs. He started to cross check and found out to his dismay that Yolanda Saldivar had embezzled money up to $60000 from the fan club and the boutiques to her own bank account using forged checks. First Selena couldn’t believe that her friend could do such a thing but when her father confronted her with proofs, she broke into tears.
Selena, her father and the rest of the Quintanilla family summoned Yolanda and asked her to give the correct accountability of the money face legal action. Her job was terminated. Selena told Yolanda that she had trusted her and she should not have hurt her fans.
A few days later, Yolanda asked Selena to meet her at a motel room. Perez, Selena’s husband accompanied her but stayed in the car as Selena went to take the bank statements. When Selena and Perez were taking a ride back home, Selena noticed that Yolanda had not given all the documents and some of the statements were not even correct. Later at that night, Yolanda paged Selena saying that she had been raped, was bleeding and needed to be taken to the hospital. Perez told Selena that Yolanda may be just lying and anyway, it was too late to go out alone. The next day, without Perez’s knowledge, Selena went to meet Yolanda.
Selena confronted Yolanda for lying and luring her into the motel. Just when she was about to leave, Yolanda fired gun shots at Selena and as she ran, she lost consciousness and bled. Even though the hotel medics attended to her, she was pronounced dead. Yolanda meanwhile got into a car and put a gun to her head saying that she would shoot herself and that she didn’t mean to shoot her. The police was involved in a stand-off with Yolanda in the car, which went through the night, till she finally surrendered. Yolanda is serving time in Texas jail and will be eligible for parole in 2025.
The Hipsanic community was clearly shocked by the news. Candle marches were organized throughout the country. Over the period of time, Selena has continued to grow even more popular with people from continents like Asia and Australia also acknowleding her amazing persona and contribution to music.
Top songs of Selena Quintanilla
- I Could Fall in Love with You – Released posthumously as a part of her successful Dreaming of You (1995), the English album, this song is regarded as one of the best songs by Selena Quintanilla in her music career. Selena’a satiny voice coupled with amazing instrumentation that has soft rock, pop, soul and R&B makes this song a masterpiece.
- Como La Flor – This song released in 1993 is the signature song of Selena Quintanilla. Como La Flor means ‘Like a Flower’ in Spanish; it went on to help win her the 1994 Grammy Award for the Best Mexican/American album award for Selena Live!
- Dreaming of You – This song was a part of the album of the same name and released in August 2015, five months after her death. The beautiful romantic number has a poignant appeal and has been covered by many artists. According to her husband Chris Perez in the biography ‘Selena’, she had urged him to listen to the song when she was recording a demo. She had thought of him when he had sung the song but at that time, he had taken her suggestion for granted.
- Bidi Bidi Bom Bom – Part of the album ‘Amor Prohbido’ (1994), this playful, celebratory song by Selena was actually an unplanned one. She had sung the song on her Entre a mi Mundo Tour in 1993 to see how her fans would react. Following a positive reception to the ‘draft’, the song was eventually recorded and given a reggae twist to become endearing to Hispanics, who did not really know her music up until that time. Bidi Bidi bom Bom went on to win the’Most Performed Song of the Year’ in 1996 and also won the ‘Song of the Year’ in the 1994 Tejano Music Awards. The Tejano Music Awards conferred upon the song the award of The Best 1990 song’ in 2010.
- Missing my Baby – This is a R&B ballad with soul and urban influences. The lyrics talk about the times a girl reminisces of her lover. The track met with a fabulous response in 1992 when it released, and it has grown to be a classic over the years.
Selena Quintanilla – Height and Other Facts
- She was 5 feet 6 inch tall.
- Selena’s husband Chris wrote in ‘To Selena with Love‘, the biography, that Selena’s biggest dream was to have her own farm and raise horsees and livestock. In fact they had even purchased 10 acres of land on the outskirts of Corpus Christi. This scene is present in the movie ‘Selena’ (1997) which co-starred Jennifer Lopez in the role of Selena.
- Selena was a person who loved to take challenges. Once she and Chris had gone to a Casino to play. She was told that she would lose. But she continued playing the game till she won handsomely. And once she won, she did not even care about the prize money. For her, it was just the thrill of winning. She even went bungee jumping when someone dared that she couldn’t do so.
- Her nickname was “Preciosa”- which implies beautiful and full of life.
- She had 5 pet dogs and a python
- She was always there for the fans and go lengths to sign an autograph.
- She once ran over a rabbit while driving. She was extremely hurt with herself and paid $300 for its treatment and didn’t rest, till it was fine.
- Her favorite food was pizza. She bragged and even proved many times that she could finish a whole pizza all by herself.
- In 1995, Selena was the highest selling female artiste. Her ‘Dreaming of You’ sold more than 175,000 copies on day 1. In fact, the sales of that album on one day was more than the sales of Mariah and Madonna’s albums in one week. Selena’s re
- Selena was named the fastest selling female artist in history back in 1995, when her albums “Dreaming Of You” sold well over 175,000 copies it’s first day.
- Her favorite singers were Janet Jackson, Gloria Estefan and Luis Enrique.
- Selena and Chris proposed to each other at Pizza Hut in Rio Grand Valley.
- She was the brand ambassador of Coca Cola from 1989 all the way to her death. She also represented AT&T, Agree Shampoo and Southwestern Bell
- Selena’s favorite TV program was Moonlight which had Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard in the main leads.
- A people’s celebrity all the way, Selena would take active interest in community services. She would always encourage children and adults to get as much education as possible and steer clear of drugs and alcohol. She was a spokesperson for the DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)
- Selena had a massive Faberge egg collection. In her drawing room itself, she had huge glass cabinets which housed more than 525 designer eggs.
- Selena and Chris married secretly at a local court. The news spread to the radio much later, when someone at the marriage court shared the news to the local radio station. Chris remarks in the pre-Internet days, they had the luxury of hiding the marriage for a day or two at least. If it was today, the news would have been viral on Twitter in seconds.
- Selena opened two boutiques in 1994. Selena Etc. Inc one in Corpus Christi and the second one in San Antonio.
- Selena Quintanilla’s performance at the Houston Astrodrome in 1995, called ‘Live!’ was no short of a spectacle with 61, 041 fans.
- On the day of her death, Selena had got up early in the morning and let a high pitched scream. Her husband woke up shaken and she laughed saying that she had bumped at her father-in-law who had walked in unexpectedly. She told Chris to continue sleeping. Then she left for Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi, Texas, where she was shot by Yolanda Saldivar.
- George W. Bush felicitated April 16, 1995 as ‘Selena Day’ in Texas. There is also her memorial statue on the Bay Front of Corpus Christi, which was unveiled in 1997.
- There were more than 20000 actresses auditioning for the role of ‘Selena’. There were talks that Salma Hayek was considered the part. But the role finally went to a lesser known Jennifer Lopez. The decision was met with a lot of criticism but Jennifer played Selena in the best way possible, so much that it turned out to be one of her landmark movies. Jennifer Lopez says that Selena is responsible for her career to break new grounds, and for her to be as much grounded in life, as possible. She decided to take her singing seriously as she reprised Selena’s role in the film.
- Selena Quintanilla was not a trained singer. It was all practice, practice, practice and consistent performance.
- Selena Quintanilla loved to wear a trademark lipstick which was a good blend of red and maroon. MAC, the lipstick major, unveiled a signature lipstick called Selena in 2015
Selena Quintanilla (Pictures)
Rise to fame and stage performances – She was known as the most accessible and public-friendly celebrity in the 90s, always ready to call audience members up on the stage and dance with them.
Selena Quintanilla with her husband Chris Perez – He was a guitarist in their music troupe. They faced stiff opposition from Abraham Quintanilla when they were dating and Chris Perez’s run with law a few times, made it worse. Nevertheless, love triumphed and Chris and Selena got married.
Selena Quintanilla and Yolanda Saldivar
Jennifer Lopez as Selena Quintanilla (lookalike pictures)
Jlo reprised Selena in the biopic of the same name, in 1997. The movie was a landmark success and a turning point in Jennifer Lopez’s career.
Selena Quintanilla’s boutique called Selena Etc built in 1994 in Corpus Christi with another branch in San Antonio. The salon and boutiques were huge hits, in high demand and Selena earned more than $5 million in the period 94-95 just from these two boutiques. After her death, the boutiques began to incur losses and the San Antonio branch was shut down in 1999. The Corpus Christi headquarters was closed in 2009. The Selena Etc and the singer’s clothes, accessories and hats were finally sold at the Selena Museum, located miles away.
Selena Museum in Corpus Christi contains memorabilia, designs, clothes and records of the popular singer.
Selena Statue – Also called Mirador de La Flor (the flower watcher) is a monument unveiled in 1997 to honor Selena. This is located few miles north of Selena’s burial site at Seaside Memorial Park. Nearly 40,000 people visit this statue every year and click pictures.
Selena Quintanilla continues to live in the hearts of her fans through her music.