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Selena Quintanilla: Her Life

Sofia Lopez, Reporter and Editorial Board

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Selena Quintanilla was an American singer, songwriter, spokesperson, model, actress, and fashion designer. She was called the Queen of Tejano music, and her contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century. Media outlets called her the Tejano Madonna for her clothing choices. She ranks among the most influential Latin artist of all time.

 

Early Life:

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. She was raised by her mother, Marcella Ofelia Quintanilla,who had Cherokee ancestry and her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., her father was a former Mexican American Musician. Selena was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, Jehovah’s Witness is a person that proclaims views or truths of which he, Jehovah, is convinced. Selena was the youngest child of the Quintanilla family. In the 1980’s she debuted as Selena y Los Dinos with her brother A.B. Quintanilla and her sister Suzette Quintanilla. In the same year her father opened a restaurant, Papa Gayo’s, where Selena and her siblings played often. The following year they were forced to close the restaurant after a recession caused by the 1980’s oil glut.

In 1984 she recorded her first LP record, Selena y Los Dinos, for Freddie Records. Despite wanting to record English-language songs, Selena recorded Tejano music compositions; a male dominated, Spanish-language genera with German influences of Polka, Jazz, and country music, popularized  by Mexicans in the United States. During recording sessions Selena had to phonetically learn Spanish with the help of her father. In 1985 to promote her album she appeared on the Johnny Canales Show, a popular Spanish-language radio program on which he appeared for several years.  Selena was discovered by musician Rick Trevino, the founder of Tejano Music Awards where she won female vocalist of the year in 1987 and for nine consecutive years afterwards.

The family declared bankruptcy and were soon evicted from their home. Once evicted they settled in Corpus Christi, Texas. After moving to Corpus Christi, Selena’s father became the manager of Selena y Los Dinos. Her father refurbished an old bus and called it “Big Bertha”, they used the bus and played on street corners, at weddings, at quinceañeras, and at fairs. As her popularity grew her schedule began to interfere with her education, in the eight grade her father decided to take her out of school. One of her teachers threatened to report him to the Texas Board of Education he told the teacher to mind her own business. At 17 Selena earned a high school diploma from the American School of

Correspondence in Chicago. She was later accepted at Louisiana State University but she ended up enrolling at Pacific Western University taking up business administration as her major subject.

Career:

Jose Behar wanted to sign Selena to his newly formed EMI Latin Records. Sony Music Latin offered her father more than twice of what EMI Latin Records signing fee.- Selena’s father decided to go with the EMI Latin Records because of a potential crossover album and because he wanted his kids to be the first musicians to sign to the label.

Selena’s popularity grew after winning the Tejano Music Award. This award was won by her nine consecutive times. In 1982 Selena began recording professionally. Her song Como La Flor was one of her most popular signature songs. At the 1987 music awards she won both “Best Female Vocalist of the Year” and “Performer of the Year”. On October 17, 1989 she released her album Selena. Her 1990 album, Ven Conmigo, was the first Tejano record to achieve gold status, meaning it sold over 500,000 copies. The released of Entre Mi Mundo in 1992, peaked number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart for 8 consecutive months. In April of 1992 she took a small break to marry Chris Perez, the band’s lead guitarist. Her live album Live! won best Mexican/American Album at the

1994 Grammy Awards and became the first female Tejano to do so. In 1994 she also released          Amor Prohibido  it became one of the best-selling Latin albums in the United States. Coca Cola made her their spokesperson in Texas. In 2015 she sold over 65 million albums worldwide, making her the best-selling female artist in Latin music history.

 

 

Murder:

On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot by Yolanda Saldivar. Saldivar was her fan club president and founder. Saldivar was found and fired for embezzling money from Selena’s boutique in San Antonio, Texas. Two weeks after the death of Selena the governor of Texas, George W. Bush declared Selena’s birthday as Selena Day in Texas. Two years after her death, 1997, Warner Bros. released Selena, a film about her life and career.

Funeral:

On April 1, Bayfront Plaza in Corpus Christi held a vigil which drew 3,000 fans. During the event it was announced that a public viewing of the casket would be held at the Bayfront auditorium the following day, people were lined up a mile to see the casket. About an hour before doors opened, rumors that the casket was empty circulated this prompted the Quintanilla family to have an open-casket viewing. Around 30,000 to 40,000 fans passed by Selena’s casket. Around 78,000 people signed a book of condolence. On April 3, 1995, six hundred guests attended Selena’s burial at Seaside Memorial Park

 

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