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Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.jpg
Background information
Birth nameSelena Quintanilla
Also known asSelena
Born(1971-04-16)April 16, 1971
Lake Jackson, Texas, United States
DiedMarch 31, 1995(1995-03-31) (aged 23)
Corpus Christi, Texas, United States
GenresTejano, Mexican cumbia, Ranchera, Latin pop, R&B, Pop
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, actress, dancer, model, designer, entrepreneur
Years active1982–1995
LabelsFreddie Records, Cara Records, GP Productions, EMI Latin, Q-Productions, SBK Records
Associated actsSelena y Los Dinos, Abraham Quintanilla III, Suzette Quintanilla, Chris Pérez
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Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.jpg
Background information
Birth nameSelena Quintanilla
Also known asSelena
Born(1971-04-16)April 16, 1971
Lake Jackson, Texas, United States
DiedMarch 31, 1995(1995-03-31) (aged 23)
Corpus Christi, Texas, United States
GenresTejano, Mexican cumbia, Ranchera, Latin pop, R&B, Pop
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, actress, dancer, model, designer, entrepreneur
Years active1982–1995
LabelsFreddie Records, Cara Records, GP Productions, EMI Latin, Q-Productions, SBK Records
Associated actsSelena y Los Dinos, Abraham Quintanilla III, Suzette Quintanilla, Chris Pérez

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995), known simply as Selena, was an American singer-songwriter. She 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.[1] Selena had the most successful singles of 1994 and 1995, "Amor Prohibido" and "No Me Queda Más".[2] She was called "The Queen of Tejano music"[3] and the Mexican equivalent of Madonna.[4] Selena released her first album, Selena y Los Dinos, at the age of twelve. She won Female Vocalist of the Year at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards and landed a recording contract with EMI a few years later. Her fame grew throughout the early 1990s, especially in Spanish-speaking countries, and she had begun recording in English as well.

Selena was murdered at the age of 23 on March 31, 1995 by Yolanda Saldívar, the former president of her fan club. 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.[5] Warner Bros. produced Selena, a film based on her life starring Jennifer Lopez, in 1997. Selena's life was also the basis of the musical Selena Forever starring Veronica Vazquez as Selena. In June 2006 Selena was commemorated with a life-sized bronze statue (Mirador de la Flor) in Corpus Christi, Texas, and a Selena museum opened there. She has sold over 60 million albums worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She is also the only female artist to have five albums in US Billboard 200 at the same time.[6] The Albany Times Union named her one of "100 Coolest Americans in History".[7]

Early life

Selena was born in Lake Jackson, Texas,[8] as the youngest of three children born to a Mexican American[9] father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. and a half-Cherokee Native American mother,[10] Marcella Ofelia (née Samora).[11] She was raised as a Jehovah's Witness.[12] Selena began singing at age three. When she was nine years old, her father launched a vocal group consisting of several of his children, Selena y Los Dinos.[4] They initially performed at a restaurant the family operated,[5] but went bankrupt soon thereafter. They moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where they performed wherever they could - street corners, weddings, quinceañeras, and fairs.[13] As Selena grew more popular, the demands of her performance and travel schedule began to interfere with her education. Her father took her out of school when she was in the eighth grade.[3] At seventeen, she earned a high school diploma by the American School Program.[14]

The band's efforts paid off in 1985, when fourteen-year-old Selena recorded her first album for a record company. Her father bought all of the original copies.[15] It was re-released in 1995 as Mis Primeras Grabaciones.[16] Over the next three years, not under a recording contract, she released six more albums.


At the 1987 Tejano Music Awards, Selena won Best Female Vocalist, an award she would dominate for the rest of her life.[3][17] In 1989, José Behar, the former head of Sony Music Latin, signed Selena with Capitol/EMI. Behar later explained signed her because he thought he had discovered the next Gloria Estefan.[3] In 1988, she met Chris Pérez, who had his own band. Two years later, the Quintanilla family hired him to play in Selena's band and they began dating. At first her father opposed their relationship and went as far as firing Pérez from the band. He eventually came to accept the relationship.[18] On April 2, 1992, Selena and Chris were married in Nueces County, Texas.[4]

In 1990, her album Ven Conmigo was released, written by her brother and main songwriter Abraham Quintanilla III. This recording was the first Tejano album recorded by a female artist to achieve gold status. Around the same time, a registered nurse and fan named Yolanda Saldívar approached Selena's father with the idea of starting a fan club. He approved and Saldívar became the club's president; later, she worked as the manager of Selena's retail enterprises.[4] In 1992, Selena’s stardom got a big boost with the song, "Como La Flor" off a new album, Entre a Mi Mundo. The next album, Selena Live! won Best Mexican-American Album at the 36th Grammy Awards.[4]

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The song Como La Flor is one of Selena's best known Spanish language songs.

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The album Amor Prohibido was released in 1994. It was nominated for a Grammy award for Mexican-American Album of the Year. Selena and her band received yet more accolades in 1994. Billboard's Premio Lo Nuestro awarded them six awards, including Best Latin Artist and Song of the Year for "Como La Flor". Meanwhile, her duet with the Barrio Boyzz, "Donde Quiera Que Estés", reached number one in the Billboard Latin Charts. This prompted Selena to tour in Latin America.[19] She performed a duet with Salvadoran singer Álvaro Torres, "Buenos Amigos". By fall of 1994, Amor Prohibido was a commercial success in Mexico and made four number one Latin hits, replacing Gloria Estefan's Mi Tierra on the chart's number one spot. It sold over 400,000 copies by late 1994 in the U.S. and another 50,000 copies in Mexico, reaching gold status.[4]

Aside from music, she 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.[20] Hispanic Business magazine reported that the singer earned over five million dollars from these boutiques.[21] Selena briefly played opposite Erik Estrada in a Mexican telenovela titled Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.[22] In 1995 she entered negotiations to star in another telenovela produced by Emilio Larrosa.[22]

At the peak of her career, Selena visited local schools to talk to students about the importance of education. She also donated her time to civic organizations such as D.A.R.E.. These demonstrations of community involvement won her loyalty from her fan base.[23] Selena scheduled her English album for release in the summer of 1995.


In early 1995, the Quintanillas discovered that Yolanda Saldívar was embezzling money from the fan club and decided to fire her.[4] Three weeks later, Selena agreed to meet Saldívar at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi[24] to retrieve financial records Saldívar had been refusing to turn over. Saldívar once again delayed the handover by claiming she had been raped in Mexico.[3] Selena then drove Saldívar to a local hospital, where doctors found no evidence of rape.[25] They returned to the motel, where Selena again demanded the missing financial papers.[4] Saldívar drew a pistol from her purse and pointed it at Selena. Selena tried to flee, but Saldívar shot her once in her right shoulder, severing an artery. Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby for help. She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called 911, with Saldívar still chasing her and calling her a "bitch".[26] Selena died in a hospital from loss of blood at 1:05 p.m. on March 31, 1995, 16 days before her 24th birthday.[27]

Selena was buried at Seaside Memorial Park, in Corpus Christi, Texas.[28]


Selena's murder had a widespread impact. Major networks interrupted their regular programming to break the news; Tom Brokaw referred to Selena as "The Mexican Madonna".[29] It was front page news on The New York Times for two days after her death.[30] Numerous vigils and memorials were held in her honor, and radio stations in Texas played her music non-stop.[31] Her funeral drew 60,000 mourners, many of whom traveled from outside the United States.[31] Among the celebrities who were reported to have phoned the Quintanilla family to express their condolences were Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, Julio Iglesias, and Madonna.[32] People published a commemorative issue in honor of Selena's memory and musical career, titled Selena 1971–1995, Her Life in Pictures.[31] This issue sold nearly 450,000 copies. Two weeks later, the company released a special issue for Selena, which sold more than 600,000 copies.[33] 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.[34] 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."[35][36] On April 12, 1995, George W. Bush, then Governor of Texas, declared Selena's birthday April 16 as "Selena Day" in Texas.[5] Selena was inducted into the "Latin Music Hall of Fame" that same year.[33]

That summer, Selena's album Dreaming of You, a combination of Spanish-language songs and new English-language tracks, debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, making her the first Hispanic singer to accomplish this feat.[37] and the second highest debut after Michael Jackson's HIStory. On its release date, the album sold over 175,000 copies, a record for a female pop singer, and it sold two million copies in its first year.[38] Dreaming of You sold more than 330,000 copies in its first week.[39][40] The album was number 75 in the List of BMG Music Club's top selling albums in the United States.[41] Songs such as "I Could Fall in Love" and "Dreaming of You" were played widely by mainstream English-language radio, with the latter reaching number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, "I Could Fall in Love", while ineligible for the Hot 100 at the time, reached number 8 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart and the top 10 on the Adult Contemporary Chart. "Dreaming of You" was certified 35× Platinum (Latin field) by the Recording Industry Association of America.[42] 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 thirty years.[43] Under a judge's order, the gun used to kill Selena was destroyed in 2002, and the pieces thrown into Corpus Christi Bay.[44][45]

Posthumous commemorations and popularity

Mirador de la Flor is a tourist attraction in Corpus Christi, Texas, that was unveiled in 1997 to honor Selena.

Jennifer Lopez portrayed Selena in a film about Selena's life. Selena was among two other Latin artists who had the best sales of records in 2001.[46] 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.[47] She has sold over 60 million albums worldwide.[6]



Don Juan DeMarco1995Ranchera singerMinor role
Johnny Canales Show1985–1994herself
Tejano Music Awards1987–1995herself
Dos mujeres, un camino1993herself
E! True Hollywood Story: The Murder Trial of Selena1996
The Making of Selena the Movie1997
Por Siempre Selena1998
VH1 All Access: Selena1999
Para Siempre Selena2000
Por Siempre... Selena2001–present
Selena ¡VIVE!2005herselfhonoree
Biography2008TV series (2 episodes)
Top Trece2008TV series (1 episode)
Historia de una Leyenda2009TV series (1 episode)
Famous Crime Scene: Selena2010TV series (1 episode)featured
Reel Crime Story: Selena2012TV series (1 episode)featured


See also


  1. ^ Mayfield, Geoff (December 25, 1999). "Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 111 (52): YE–16–18. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Topping The Charts Year By Year". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 110 (48): LMQ3. November 28, 1998. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Mitchell 1995.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h New York Times 1995.
  5. ^ a b c Orozco, Cynthia E. Quintanilla Pérez, Selena. The Handbook of Texas online. Retrieved on May 29, 2009
  6. ^ a b "A 17 años de su trágica muerte, Selena Quintanilla vuelve en grande.". E! Online (in Spanish). Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The 100 coolest Americans in history". Times Union. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 30.
  9. ^ HSA Banquet Features Father of Late Tejano Star Selena, Baylor University press release, November 4, 1999. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  10. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 20.
  11. ^ Ware, Susan. Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Harvard University Press 2005. ISBN 0-674-01488-X
  12. ^ Caller-Times 1997.
  13. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 53.
  14. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 59.
  15. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 49.
  16. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 288.
  17. ^ "Fans, Family Remember Selena"., October 17, 2002. Retrieved on July 9, 2006.
  18. ^ Patoski 1996.
  19. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 123.
  20. ^ Patoski 1996, p. 120.
  21. ^ "Selena – Life Events"[dead link]. Corpus Christi Caller Times, March 27, 2005. Retrieved on June 7, 2006.
  22. ^ a b Patoski 1996, p. 134.
  23. ^ Selena[dead link]. Retrieved on September 9, 2010.
  24. ^ "Testimony of Richard Fredrickson". Houston Chronicle, October 13, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  25. ^ "October 12, 1995 testimony of Carla Anthony". Houston Chronicle, October 12, 1995. Retrieved on May 21, 2008.
  26. ^ "October 12, 1995, the testimony of Norma Martinez". Houston Chronicle, October 12, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  27. ^ Villafranca, Armando and Reinert, Patty. "Singer Selena shot to death". Houston Chronicle, April 1, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  28. ^ Harvey, Bill (2003). Texas Cemeteries: The Resting Places of Famous, Infamous, and Just Plain Interesting Texans. University of Texas Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-292-73466-2. 
  29. ^ "In the spirit of Selena: Tributes, a book and an impending film testify to the Tejano singer's enduring". by Gregory Rodriguez Pacific News, March 21, 1997. Retrieved on July 18, 2006.
  30. ^ Patoski, p. 174
  31. ^ a b c Mitchell, Rick. "Selena". Houston Chronicle, May 21, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  32. ^ Patoski, p. 165
  33. ^ a b Lannert, John (1995). "Latin pride". Billboard 107 (23): 112. 
  34. ^ Asin, Stephanie and Dyer, R.A. "Selena's public outraged: Shock jock Howard Stern's comments hit raw nerve." Houston Chronicle, April 6, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  35. ^ "A real shocker from Stern: Apology for Selena comments". New York Daily News. 7 Apr 1995. Retrieved 23 Nov 2013. 
  36. ^ Marikar, Sheila (14 May 2012). "Howard Stern's Five Most Outrageous Offenses". ABC Good Morning America. Retrieved 23 Nov 2013. 
  37. ^ Hodges, Ann. "Selena legend lives on with TV movie'[dead link] Houston Chronicle, December 6, 1996. Retrieved on May 20, 2006. Archived June 28, 2006 at the Wayback Machine[dead link]
  38. ^ "In the spirit of Selena: Tributes, a book and an impending film testify to the Tejano singer's enduring". Houston Chronicle, March 31, 1996. Retrieved on January 18, 2008.
  39. ^ Patoski pg. 199
  40. ^ Nilou Panahpour (1995). "Rock and Roll yearbook, the best in music, movies, and television". Rolling Stone (Straight Arrow Publishers Company) (724/725): 64. 
  41. ^ "List of BMG Music Club's top selling albums in the United States". BMG. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  42. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved January 4, 2009. 
  43. ^ Graczyk, Michael. "Selena's killer gets life". Associated Press, October 26, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  44. ^ National Briefing Southwest: Texas: Gun That Killed Singer Is To Be Destroyed The New York Times, June 8, 2002. Retrieved on July 16, 2006.
  45. ^ Compiled, Items (June 11, 2002). "Gun used in slaying of Selena destroyed". (Chicago Tribune). Retrieved October 26, 2011. 
  46. ^ Oumano, Elena (1999). "U.S. Latin Music Sales Break Records". Billboard magazine 111 (43): 108. 
  47. ^ Sara Inés Calderón (January 18, 2011). "Selena, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente In U.S. Postal Stamp Form". NewsTaco. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 


External links