Selena: 1971-1995: Vocalist
Selena: 1971-1995: Vocalist
The violent death of beloved Tejano vocalist Selena on March 31, 1995, brought to an end more than just a promising musical career. Selena had become an icon in the Hispanic community, a beloved figure to whom Mexican-Americans attached their aspirations and their feelings about their cultural identities. Among them, her murder evoked an outpouring of grief comparable to that experienced by other Americans after the deaths of such major cultural figures as President John F. Kennedy.
Selena Quintanilla was born in Lake Jackson, Texas, near Houston, on April 16, 1971. Her father, Abraham Quintanilla, who worked in the shipping department of a chemical plant and later opened a restaurant, had fronted a moderately successful band called Los Dinos ("The Guys") as a young man. Selena was the youngest of three children. She grew up speaking English; although she understood her parents' Spanish, she had to learn Spanish songs phonetically when she first began to perform and record. Later she studied the language, and by the time she became a star she spoke it fluently.
Sang at Family Restaurant
Abraham Quintanilla spotted his daughter's musical talents when she was six years old and envisaged a show-business career for her, sometimes bringing her on stage to perform at the family restaurant. Economic hardship accelerated her career, however, for the recession of the early 1980s hit the Quintanillas (and Texans in general) especially hard. The restaurant closed, and at times Selena became a key family breadwinner. "We were literally doing it to put food on the table," she told Texas Monthly. Selena dropped out of school, but later earned a high school diploma through correspondence studies.
Those early performances around Houston often featured country music, but after the Quintanillas moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, Selena began to focus on the musical style known as tejano. Tejano music is a hybrid form whose musical diversity—encompassing traditional Mexican ballads, rock, R&B, polka, country, and even contemporary styles such as hip-hop and techno—reflected the diversity of influences present in modern Mexican-American culture. All of those styles were reflected in Selena's body of recorded work, which began with a series of albums recorded for a small independent label in Texas.
At a Glance . . .
Born Selena Quintanilla on April 16, 1971, in Lake Jackson, TX; Died on March 31, 1995, in Corpus Christi, TX; daughter of Abraham and Marcella Quintanilla; married guitarist Chris Pérez, 1992.
Career: Began performing with siblings as Selena y Los Dinos in late 1970s; recorded for small regional labels, 1980s; signed to EMI Latin label, 1989; released debut album Selena, 1989; released Selena Live, 1993; established retail and clothing marketing venture, Selena Inc., 1994; recorded first album primarily in English, Dreaming of You, 1995.
Selected awards: Tejano Music Awards for best female vocalist and performer of the year, 1987; Grammy award for Best Mexican American album, 1993, for Selena Live ; Grammy nomination, 1995, for Amor prohibido ; Tejano Music Awards, 1995, for Song of the Year ("Bidi Bidi Bom Bom"), best female entertainer, best female vocalist, album of the year (for Amor prohibido ), tejano crossover song, and record of the year.
Los Dinos featured Selena's brother, Abraham, on bass; he also composed many of Selena's songs. Her sister, Suzette, played drums, and the band's lead guitarist was Chris Pérez, whom Selena married in 1992. The elder Abraham Quintanilla served as manager. Gradually Selena's audiences grew in size, and she began to appear in the large ballrooms that were the central venues of tejano and northern Mexican musical performances. In 1987 Selena, only 15 years old, won Female Vocalist of the Year and Performer of the Year honors at the annual Tejano Music Awards.
Signed to EMI Latin
Those awards propelled Selena to a major-label contract with the EMI-Latin imprint; her first album for EMI, entitled Selena, was released in 1989. Her contract was reported to be worth six figures, unprecedented in the cottage industry that tejano music had been up to that time. EMI's investment paid off handsomely, however, for by 1995 her recordings had sold an estimated three million copies. The 1993 album Selena Live received a Grammy award for best Mexican-American album, and the following year's Amor prohibido reached gold-record levels with sales of a reported 600,000 copies in the United States alone. Selena now performed to arena-sized crowds such as those at Houston's annual Livestock Show and Rodeo.
A sexy image was nothing new in the world of Latin female vocals, but Selena pushed the trend to new extremes. Sometimes she would elicit wild reactions from male fans by tossing undergarments into concert crowds. Some dubbed Selena the Latin Madonna (in reference to the raunch-inclined pop vocal star), but there was always a more wholesome side to her persona as well; she was noted for spearheading anti-drug efforts, and her demeanor in media appearances off stage was pleasant and idealistic.
Selena's music had enough variety to complement the subtleties of her image-making. Her 1992 album Baila esta Cumbia fused tejano with the Colombian dance genre of cumbia, which was popular all over the Spanish-speaking Western hemisphere, but she was equally at home with sentimental ballads, with exuberant traditional dance tunes, and with the self-composed 1994 novelty hit "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom." Sometimes overlooked in discussions of Selena's personal charisma and of her way of connecting with fans was her purely musical creativity; she took tejano music into new stylistic realms. Among her last recordings was a duet with Talking Heads lead vocalist David Byrne, made for the film Blue in the Face —probably an unthinkable stretch for any other mainstream Latin artist of the day.
In 1995 Selena made film and television appearances and laid plans for the release of Dreaming of You. Partly recorded in English and released in EMI's main (rather than Latin) product line, the album was considered likely to spark a crossover to the U.S. pop mainstream that would equal or exceed any other achieved by a Hispanic performer. The singer opened a pair of eponymous clothing stores in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, and a Selena-branded clothing line was also in the discussion stages. In charge of these new enterprises was the president of Selena's fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, whom Selena had hired as an executive the previous year. Saldivar's apartment was said to be a miniature Selena shrine, virtually covered with images of the singer.
Confronted Fan Club President
Both the fan club and the Selena boutiques were financially mismanaged from the start, however; fan club members complained of undelivered merchandise, and record-keeping for the growing retail enterprises was lax. Selena and her family uncovered evidence of various abuses, and Selena moved to ease Saldivar out of her position. When she went to confront Saldivar in a room in a Corpus Christi Days Inn motel on March 31, 1995, Saldivar shot her in the back with a .38-caliber handgun. The singer survived for several hours, but massive transfusions failed to save her life.
Saldivar claimed that the shooting had been accidental and that she had planned to kill herself, not Selena, but police discovered that when Selena and her husband had come on a similar mission the previous day, Saldivar had postponed the meeting on the pretense of having forgotten to bring the needed documents; she seemed to be waiting to meet Selena alone. According to Texas Monthly she described Selena as "the only friend I ever had." As she staggered out of the motel room and called for help, Selena named Saldivar as the shooter, and at the trial, motel employees told of an argument followed by a gunshot and Selena's screams. Saldivar was convicted and given a life sentence.
The mourners at Selena's Corpus Christi funeral numbered more than 30,000, and fans gathered for services in several other cities as well. In San Antonio alone two separate memorials were held. One of many manifestations of grief that appeared within the Hispanic community was a campaign to discredit the controversial talk-show host Howard Stern, who had joked about Selena's murder.
Selena became one of the many figures in American entertainment whose career loomed larger in death than it had while she was alive. Dreaming of You sold 175,000 copies on its first day of release, making its debut at number one on Billboard magazine's pop chart and eventually selling over 2,000,000 copies. The 1997 film Selena grossed an estimated $35 million domestically; directed by Gregory Nava, it also elevated Latina actress Jennifer Lopez to a new level of recognition. The year 2000 brought a touring musical about Selena's life, Selena Forever.
Selena, EMI Latin, 1989.
Ven conmigo, EMI Latin, 1990.
Entre a mi mundo, EMI Latin, 1992.
Selena Live, EMI Latin, 1993.
Amor prohibido, EMI Latin, 1994.
Dreaming of You, 1995, EMI.
Mis primeras grabaciones, Freddie, 1995 (early recordings).
Anthology, EMI, 1998.
All My Hits, EMI, 1999.
All My Hits, Vol. 2, EMI, 2000.
Contemporary Musicians, volume 16, Gale, 1996.
Notable Hispanic American Women, Book 2, Gale, 1998.
Patoski, Joe Nick, Selena: Como la flor, Little, Brown, 1996.
Billboard, May 20, 2000, p. 117.
Broadcasting & Cable, October 2, 1995, p. 23.
Entertainment Weekly, August 18, 1995, p. 18; March 26, 1999, p. 96.
Interview, April 1997, p. 50.
People, April 1, 1996, p. 110.
Texas Monthly, September 1994, p. 122; May 1995, p. 110; December 1995, p. 102.
All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com
—James M. Manheim
"Selena: 1971-1995: Vocalist." Contemporary Hispanic Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/selena-1971-1995-vocalist
"Selena: 1971-1995: Vocalist." Contemporary Hispanic Biography. . Retrieved October 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/selena-1971-1995-vocalist
Selena (1971-1995), often called the "The Mexican Madonna, " was from very humble beginnings but used her raw talent and sultry voice to become one of popular music's fastest rising stars. Although cut down very early in her career as she was preparing to make the transition from Spanish-language to English-language chart success, her legacy has been one of ever broader exposure for Tejano music and the artists that create it.
Selena Quintanilla-Perez was born on April 16, 1971 to Abraham, Jr. and Marcella Quintanilla in Lake Jackson, Texas, where her father worked as a shipping clerk for Dow Chemical Company. Her father had led a band in the 1950s and 1960s called Los Dinos (Spanish for "the boys") that played early rock 'n' roll favorites mixed with traditional Mexican music. This music would later be called Tex-Mex or Tejano music and, with its three-part vocal harmonies and accordion and horn sections, would became very popular throughout the southwest United States and Mexico. Abraham eventually gave up his music career to settle down and start a family.
Selena, the youngest of the three Quintanilla children, attended O.M. Roberts Elementary School in Lake Jackson, a small town approximately 55 miles south of Houston, Texas, and soon showed a flair for entertaining. When she was six years-old, her father noticed her talent while teaching her older brother, Abraham III, to play a few chords on a guitar and Selena broke out into song. Her father soon converted the family garage into a music studio where her brother played bass guitar and her sister, Suzette, played drums while Selena sang.
The family band practiced almost every day after school and in 1980, her father left his job at Dow Chemical Company and opened a restaurant, Papagayo's, in Lake Jackson. The restaurant had a small stage and dance floor where the band would play on weekends. The band, now called "Selena y Los Dinos, " or "Selena and The Boys, " eventually added two guitarists and a keyboard player and garnered a local following of fans.
Initially concentrating on English pop songs and old Spanish favorites, her father soon began to write original Spanish-language songs for the band to perform. Selena's first language was English, and she had to learn the words to the Spanish-language songs phonetically. In only a few years though, the Texas oil industry dried up and so did the family restaurant's business. Her father moved the family to his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas and began taking them on long road trips criss-crossing the state to perform their music. Selena often missed classes at West Oso Junior High School in Corpus Christi due to her touring with the band. Her father pulled her from classes permanently when she was in the eighth grade so that she could concentrate music. She took correspondence courses through the American School in Chicago, the same school that educated the Osmond family, and earned her General Education Diploma (GED) in 1989.
The constant touring paid off with an opening slot for the Tejano band, Mazz, at the Angleton, Texas fairgrounds in 1983. Mazz was one of the most popular Tejano acts of the time and Selena, only eleven-years-old, took the stage by storm, putting on a show impressed the assembled crowd.
Taking time out from touring and opening up for other more established Tejano bands, Selena recorded Mis Primeras Grabaciones in 1984 for Corpus Christi's Freddie label. Freddie was one of the oldest and most established Spanish-language record companies in Texas, but the album and its only single, Ya Se Va, did not sell well. Within a year the band had moved to the Cara label and then to the Manny label. Selena's albums for Manny did not sell much better than before and the band continued to tour, living in a van while they traveled around the southwest United States opening for larger Tejano acts and playing shows at small clubs and fairgrounds.
Due to the diverse crowds that the band played to, they learned to perform many different styles of music, rhythm and blues-based music for audiences in the larger cities, like Houston, and more traditional accordion-style Tejano music for fans in the small western Texas crowds they performed for. In 1988, Selena was popular enough among Tejano fans that she was voted the female artist of the year at the Tejano Music Awards in San Antonio, Texas. She would go on to win this award consecutively for the next seven years as her popularity increased every year.
In 1989, Selena was signed to EMI Records and suddenly she had the weight and distribution system behind her to make her a giant star. She was spotted by the head of the label's new Latin music division, Jose Behar, as she performed at the Tejano Music Awards. Upon first spotting Selena, Behar knew that she could be a great cross-over artist, appealing not only to traditional fans of Tejano music, but also to the larger pop music market in the rest of the United States. Selena would be the first artist signed by Behar and in 1991, her duet with Alvaro Torres, Buenos Amigos, became her breakthrough hit. The song went to number one on Billboard's Latin chart and introduced her to audiences throughout the United States. Her next hit song, Donde Quiero Que Estes, would also be a duet, this time with the Latin group the Barrio Boyzz.
Donde Quiero Que Estes was more tropical-influenced than most traditional Tejano music, and this song exposed Selena to an even wider market. On April 2, 1992, Selena married 22-year-old Christopher Perez, the lead guitarist for her band and they soon moved into a house in the La Molina neighborhood of Corpus Christi between her parents and her brother's family.
In the early 1990s, Selena's biggest following had begun to be in Mexico. This was due to the more international sound of the songs that her father was now writing for her to perform. The songs had an Afro-Caribbean sound that more-traditional Tejano artists shied away from, but which Selena accepted with open arms. These new songs were not only popular in Mexico, but also began to be heard throughout the United States in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and even outside its borders in South and Central America. This wider audience soon came to be reflected in the size of the crowds that she attracted to her shows.
In February of 1993, Selena performed for a record crowd of 57, 894 at the Houston Astrodome. One year later, on February 1994, she would break her own record, as 60, 948 came to the Astrodome to see her perform during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In August of 1993, a crowd of over 20, 000 watched her perform in Pasadena, California, an area that she had previously been almost unknown in. In March of 1994, her album Selena Live won a Grammy award for the best Mexican-American album.
In July of 1994, Selena released Amor Prohibido. Amor Prohibido would give Selena four number one singles and replaced Gloria Estefan's Mi Tierra as the top Latin selling album of that year. The album would go on to sell over a million copies worldwide and led to Selena being listed as one of the most successful Latin entertainers in the world by Hispanic Business Magazine and winning the Tejano Music Award's album of the year.
Posthumous English-Language Success
In December of 1993 Selena was moved to EMI's SBK label. SBK was primarily an English-language label, and Selena was eager to make an album in her first language. Often compared to other English-language artists such as Madonna, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, Selena was enthusiastic about having the same kinds of success that these artists had. She began recording English-language songs for her new album and continued touring throughout 1994 and 1995. On February 26, 1995, Selena would set the third straight record for attendance at the Houston Astrodome when an audience of 61, 041 saw her perform on-stage alongside Emilio Navaira, the Tejano Music Awards male vocalist for that year.
On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot and killed by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, in a hotel room in Corpus Christi, shortly after a confrontation about missing business funds. (Saldívar was later convicted of murder but has since proclaimed her innocence). Dreaming of You, the album released posthumously in 1996, contained five tracks sung in English as well as remixes by her father of Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, Como la Flor, Techno Cumbia and Amor Prohibido. The album also featured two tracks with Selena singing traditional Tejano songs alongside a Mexican mariachi band and God's Child, a song she recorded in 1994 alongside musician David Byrne for the motion picture Don Juan DeMarco, in which she had a small role. The album went straight to the number one spot on the Billboard chart and sold over a million copies. The crossover success that Selena had always hoped for had finally come and the album's success brought Tejano music to millions of fans who previously knew nothing about this genre of music.
Houston Chronicle, April 1, 1995.
New York Times, July 27, 1995; July 30, 1995.
People, April 17, 1995.
Washington Post, April 1, 1995; April 2, 1995.
"Selena, " Selena -the Movie,http://www.selena-themovie.com/main.html (April 28, 1998).
"Selena's Page, " The Unofficial Selena's Web Site,http://www.ondanet.com:1995/tejano/selena.html (April 28, 1998).
The Selena Foundation,http://www.neosoft.com/selena/ (April 28, 1998).
"Selena." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/selena
"Selena." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved October 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/selena
Born: April 16, 1971
Lake Jackson, Texas
Died: March 31, 1995
Corpus Christi, Texas
Hispanic American singer
Often called the "Mexican Madonna," Selena used her talent and voice to become one of popular music's fastest rising stars. Although she was murdered very early in her career, she brought great exposure to Tejano, or Tex-Mex, music.
A musical family
Selena Quintanilla-Perez was born on April 16, 1971, in Lake Jackson, Texas. Her parents were Abraham Jr. and Marcella Quintanilla. Her father had led a band in the 1950s and 1960s that played early rock and roll songs mixed with traditional Mexican music. This music, later called Tejano music, would become very popular throughout the southwest United States and Mexico. Abraham eventually gave up his music career to start a family.
Selena was the youngest of the three Quintanilla children. She attended elementary school in Lake Jackson, a small town about fifty-five miles south of Houston, Texas. When she was six years old, her father saw her talent. He was teaching her older brother, Abraham III, to play guitar when Selena began to sing. The children formed a family band. They practiced almost every day.
"Selena and the Boys"
In 1980 Selena's father opened a restaurant. The family band, called Selena y Los Dinos, would play there on weekends and at weddings and parties. Her father began to write original Spanish-language songs for the band to perform. Since Selena's first language was English, she had to learn the words to the Spanish-language songs syllable by syllable. They had many local fans, but the family restaurant failed and closed down. Her father moved the family to his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, to start over again.
Traveling all over the state, the band continued to perform their music. The concert touring paid off when the band opened for a popular Tejano act called Mazz. At age eleven, Selena took the stage by storm and the crowd loved her. At this time, Selena focused on her music but often missed classes and stopped going to school for good when she was in the eighth grade. To keep up with her schooling, she took courses through the American School in Chicago. She eventually earned her General Education Diploma (GED) in 1989, which is the same as earning a high school diploma.
Selena took some time out from touring to record music. For Corpus Christi's Freddie label, Selena recorded Mis Primeras Grabaciones in 1984. Freddie was one of the oldest and most established Spanish-language record companies in Texas. The album and its only single, "Ya Se Va," did not sell well. Switching to Cara and Manny record labels, Selena's albums did not sell much better. Living in a van, the band continued to tour by opening for larger Tejano acts in the southwest United States.
For larger and larger audiences, the band learned to play many different styles of music. They played rhythm-and-blues-based music in larger cities. They played more traditional Tejano music in small Texas towns. In 1988 Selena was popular enough that she was voted the female artist of the year at the Tejano Music Awards. She would win this award again for the next seven years. Her popularity increased every year.
In 1989 Selena joined EMI Records. She suddenly had a major record company supporting her. José Behar, the head of the company's new Latin music division, knew that she could appeal to a very wide audience, not just Tejano fans. In 1991 her song with Alvaro Torres, called "Buenos Amigos," became a hit. The song went to number one on Billboard 's Latin chart and introduced her to audiences throughout the United States. With her next hit song, "Donde Quiero Que Estes," Selena continued to grow in popularity and reach wider and wider markets for her music.
The early 1990s included many bright spots in Selena's music and personal life. On April 2, 1992, Selena married twenty-two-year-old Christopher Perez. He was the lead guitarist in her band. Together they shared in the success and in Selena's growing popularity, particularly in Mexico. Her father was now writing more international-sounding songs for her. These new songs were not only popular in Mexico but also began to be heard throughout the United States and in South and Central America. The size of the audiences at her shows swelled. In February 1994 more than sixty thousand people saw her perform in Houston. In March 1994 her album Selena Live won a Grammy Award for the best Mexican American album.
Selena's growing fame also increased record sales. In July 1994 Selena released Amor Prohibido. The album would sell more than one million copies. It was the top selling Latin album of that year. It also was named the Tejano Music Award's album of the year.
Selena was often compared with other English-language artists such as Madonna (1958–), Janet Jackson (1966–), and Mariah Carey (1969–). She was eager to make an album in her first language so that she could have the same kind of success that these artists had. In December 1993 Selena was moved to a record company that made mostly English-language records. She began recording English-language songs for a new album and continued performing.
On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot and killed by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar (1960–). Millions mourned her death and with this attention she became even more famous. Dreaming of You, the album released after her death in 1996, contained five songs sung in English. It also contained a number of traditional Tejano songs. The album was a huge hit and sold more than a million copies. It was the wide success that Selena had always hoped for. The album also introduced Tejano music to millions of new fans. At the Houston Astrodome, a place she often performed, she was honored with a memorial concert. A movie was made about her life, starring Jennifer Lopez (1970–), a year later.
For More Information
Arrarás, María Celeste. Selena's Secret: The Revealing Story Behind Her Tragic Death. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Jones, Veda Boyd. Selena. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999.
Marvis, Barbara J. Selena. Childs, MD: Mitchell Lane, 1998.
Wheeler, Jill C. Selena: The Queen of Tejano. Edina, MN: Abdo & Daughters, 1996.
"Selena." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/selena-0
"Selena." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved October 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/selena-0
Born: Selena Quintanilla; Freeport, Texas, 16 April 1971; died Corpus Christi, Texas, 31 March 1995
Best-selling album since 1990: Dreaming of You (1995)
Hit songs since 1990: "Como la Flor," "Amor Prohibido," "I Could Fall in Love"
Selena's great talent was her ability to reinvent the basic Mexican cumbia rhythm, turning it into a keyboard-driven dance party. Her tejano/pop hits crackled with catchy hooks, sing-along choruses, the celebratory improvisations of salsa, and even the sweaty jump fever of reggae.
The cumbia, known for its staccato, midtempo beat, spread to Mexico beginning in the 1960s and soon became one of the most popular rhythms in regional Mexican and Tejano music. Tejano is Spanish for "from Texas" and refers to Mexican-Americans born in Texas. The music genre that bears its name uses polka and cumbia as the rhythmic base but borrows from many Mexican and American styles, including hip-hop, jazz, country, and mariachi.
Selena began her career at age eleven, when her father encouraged her, her sister Suzette, and her brother A.B. to form a band, Selena y los Dinos. By the time their album Ven Conmigo (1990) came out, the group, which by then called itself simply Selena, had evolved a rhythmic style that demonstrated its increasing ability to create catchy cumbias such as "Baila Esta Cumbia" and the title track. Selena began pouring more emotion and soul into her music. On the next album, Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), the band took a page from the sax-cumbia-meister Fito Olivares, producing the marvelous "La Carcacha," which was marked by what became the group's signature style: danceable tunes that moved the feet but also poked fun at life in the barrio. A.B. was improving as a songwriter, developing a penchant for power-pop, synth-driven cumbias.
On April 2, 1992, Selena married the band's guitarist, Chris Pérez, in Corpus Christi, Texas. The following year she won a Grammy for her Selena Live CD. In the spring of 1994, the album was still riding the charts when Amor Prohibido was released. It was the band's crowning achievement, hinting at the pop potential of a band at its creative peak.
During 1994 Selena played to packed stadiums and festivals across the United States and Mexico. Commercially and artistically, she was indisputably the queen of Tejano music—no one else came close. Not only did she possess looks and dance moves that few others could match, but she also had a songwriting team—A.B., the backup vocalist Pete Astudillo, and the keyboardist Ricky Vela—that kept her supplied with top-notch original material.
Spot Light: Amor Prohibido
Amor Prohibido, Selena's last complete studio album, showcases the singer and her team at their best. "Fotos y Recuerdos," a Spanish version of the Pretenders' "Back in the Chain Gang," is an inspired piece. That song—along with Selena's original "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom," a reggae-tinged tune—could have easily worked in European clubs because it is almost indistinguishable from the Euro-pop dance tunes on the radio. "No Me Queda Más," written by the Dinos keyboardist Ricky Vela, is another unforgettable work, a touching song about finding the strength to walk away from a romance. Selena fully conveys the pain of love and the tone of redemption.
Tejano music has traditionally been a singles-oriented genre, with more emphasis on creating a few catchy songs for radio and sticking to a yearly release schedule than attaining high concept. Nevertheless, Amor Prohibido features strong tracks like the hip-hop inspired "Techno Cumbia" and the torchy "Si Una Vez," an adventurous juxtaposition of cumbia beats with mariachi backing.
Amor Prohibido briefly charted on the Billboard 200 in the spring of 1994, becoming the first Tejano album to do so. After Selena's death, it rose all the way to number twenty-nine and sold more than 2 million copies, making it the best-selling Tejano album of the 1990s.
On February 26, 1995, Selena performed for more than 61,000 fans at the Houston Stock Show and Rodeo. Busy recording her English crossover debut, the band took a rare month off from touring. Then disaster struck. On March 31, 1995, less than three weeks shy of her twenty-fourth birthday, Selena was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the former president of her fan club, in a Corpus Christi motel. In a scene reminiscent of Elvis's funeral at Graceland, more than 30,000 fans filed past Selena's casket at the Bayfront Plaza Convention Center.
Four months after Selena's death, EMI Records released the crossover album Dreaming of You. The CD included three original English tracks and several previously released but newly rearranged hits. With the singles "I Could Fall in Love" and "Dreaming of You" garnering nationwide Top 40 airplay, the country got just a hint of what Selena would have accomplished had she lived.
In 1997, the Gregory Nava–directed biopic Selena hit theaters, starring Jennifer Lopez. The role foreshadowed Lopez's own stellar music career. At her concerts, Lopez pays tribute to the woman she portrayed, performing a touching Selena medley. Despite the tragic brevity of her career, Selena will be making an impact on Tejano music for decades to come as she inspires countless young Latinas to follow their artistic dreams.
Mis Primeras Grabaciones (Freddie, 1984); Ven Conmigo (EMI Latin, 1990); Entre a Mi Mundo (EMI Latin, 1992); Amor Prohibido (EMI Latin, 1994); Dreaming of You (EMI Latin, 1995).
"Selena." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/selena
"Selena." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved October 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/selena