“Never in my dreams would I have thought I would become this big. I am still freaking out” (Tower 245). This quote was made my Selena Quintanilla, a contemporary artist. Selena wasn’t aiming for that big in the charts or in popularity. After all the years of practice, rehearsals, and hard-work, the unexpected blow of being number one shocked her. Selena was doing it just for her family, herself, and for fun.
What made her so popular and interesting was the true power, her music cross-over. Selena Quintanilla was known as the Mexican Madonna because of her sultry voice and energetic dance movements and, also, earned the title “Queen of Tejano” because of her music and the distinction of crossing the musical barrier that all Latino artists were afraid of making. Selena Quintanilla was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas (“Selena” Newsmaker). She was born to Abraham and Marcela Quintanilla and was the youngest sister to Suzette and A.
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Selena’s father, Abraham, used to be a vocalist of a popular band, called Los Dinos, in South Texas playing popular rock ‘n’ roll songs with some traditional Mexican music (“Selena” Encyclopedia) . He married Marcela and settled down and became a shipping clerk at the Dow Chemical Plant to have children. He passed down his musical genes to his kids. Suzette learned to play the drums, A. B. learned to play the bass guitar, and Selena became a natural singer (“Selena” Encyclopedia). She practiced her voice all the time with the songs she loved.
She also practiced with her siblings doing “jam sessions” (Tower 243). Abraham, after years of working for others, opened up his own restaurant (“Selena” Newsmakers). Selena, A. B. , and Suzette became a band, called Selena y Los Dinos, and first played at their father’s restaurant (Tower 243). There was an economy recession and it made things difficult. The restaurant was closed down and they packed their things and moved to Corpus Christi. Selena went to school in West Oso Junior High School, but missed a lot of classes because she had to rehearse with the band.
She permanently dropped out in the eighth grade (“Selena” Encyclopedia). After a while, she graduated through correspondence courses of an American school in Chicago. Selena recorded a couple of songs but they were never released. Los Dinos started to play in bigger events and ballrooms. After winning the Tejano Music Award for Best Female Vocalist and Performer of the Year at the age of fifteen, she was signed to EMI Records in 1989 and her first EMI Latin album Selena was released. The song that went throughout the United States was called Buenos Amigos and it was a duet with Alvaro Torres.
The Top Female Vocalist award went to Selena in 1987 and each year throughout 1989 to 1994. In total, Selena won six Tejano awards (Myers 966). In the beginning of her career she couldn’t speak Spanish. She sang to mostly Latino audiences but she was still Texan, so her older brother had to teach her the Spanish lyrics he wrote for the band (“Selena” Newsmaker). Later her father made her learn to speak Spanish completely because she had to project a more realistic Latino image for the radio interviews that they had (Tower 244). In 1992, Selena went against her father and married a lead guitarist in her band (“Selena” St.
James). Selena Quintanilla married Chris Perez on April 2, 1992 and from that day on became Selena Quintanilla-Perez (Myers 966). While she made success in the music business, Selena opened up a clothing manufacturing business and had two boutiques in Texas called Selena etc. that sold various merchandise. On March 31, 1995 in Corpus Christi, Selena was shot in the back and pronounced dead after shortly arriving to the hospital. She was shot by a woman named Yolanda Saldivar who was the president of Selena’s fan club, manager of Selena’s two boutiques, and a best friend to Selena Quintanilla (Tower 244-245).
In the beginning of Yolanda Saldivar and the Quintanilla’s relationship, she was just a woman who wanted to become Selena’s fan club president. Selena was inspired by Saldivar and they became close friends. Saldivar convinced the family that she was able to become the manager of Selena’s two businesses so they hired her. After they hired Saldivar, bad things started to happen. The fashion designer quit because Saldivar was accused of being “mean and manipulative” (Tower 245). Fans started complaining that they did not get the accessories that they ordered. Also, money was disappearing from the business.
The Quintanilla family accused Saldivar but she said she was innocent. Saldivar testifies it as an accident and stated that she meant to shoot herself but the gun went off on Selena instead (Myers 967). Some people will never know if Selena would have ever made the cross-over successfully. Too many Latino artists crossed over and lose their Latin touch. Before her death, she had just recorded six songs for her English album. The English album, Dreaming of You, “brought Tejano music to millions of fans who previously knew nothing about this genre of music” (“Selena” Encyclopedia).
Tejano music is a mix from a lot of different beats and tunes. It started out with the Czech and German Immigrants that went to South Texas and brought in their accordions and polka beats. After that, it blended well with the traditional Mexican music. Then the migrant workers went down to South Texas and brought in big band sounds. And finally, the combined sounds and tunes created the music called Tejano (“Selena” St. James). The cross-over was going to become her whole success. Critics claimed that Selena was definitely going to make it.
After the incident though, her albums did cross-over and became famous in the U. S. A. The song Amor Prohibida sold 500,000 copies after she died. She also won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Performance. “The fusion of different cultures is what Selena was all about, and it was her unabashed expression of all of her differing selves that allowed so many Latinos to identify with her” (“Selena” St. James). A lot of people looked up to her, especially the Latinos. She was most popular with the Latinos, and to be more specific, the young Latina women. They looked up to her as a role model.
They looked up to her because she had a clean moral lifestyle. Even after exposing her body over and over again through performances on stage, she had a wholesome and naive image. She was talented and had hard work, family devotion, and wholesome cultural values or something else that the fans could relate to. Critics claimed she would be the next Madonna, famous in music and movies. Also, Marilyn Monroe believed Selena would become a crossover artist (“Selena” St. James). Selena was a fast selling female artist of all time, second to Janet Jackson (“Selena” Newsmaker).
Her album, Selena Live, became the first album by a Latin artist to hit number one on the pop charts after death. She was the pride and ambition to Latinas (“Selena” St. James). She kept herself clean while wearing seducing clothing and had a dream come true after all the hard work and troubles she had in the past. What makes Selena, Selena is the hardships she went through, her power, and the influence she held over her fans and other Latino artists. Selena is important to remember because back then female artists didn’t really become as big as Selena got.
She’s important also because she influenced other musicians for a successful cross-over. “Though her life was cut tragically short, Selena Quintanilla-Perez remains ‘una de nosotros’ (one of us) to her Latino community, and she unquestionably opened the door for a wider awareness and appreciation of the Latin pop music she loved” (“Selena” St. James). To maintain Selena’s legacy, people should buy her albums and listen to the heartfelt music that her older brother wrote. People could also watch the movie Selena starring Jennifer Lopez as Selena.