41 years ago, one of the greatest talents we’ve seen in quite some time was born. Sadly, at the age of 23, she was taken away from all those that loved her in such a malicious way. Yet, at least to me, her music lives on and has the same affect every time it’s heard. Today, I present Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.
I love Selena! Without knowing who she is or what she looks like, her voice is amazing. It’s powerful, full of elegance and grace, and is rich in emotion. Of course, there is a face and personality with the tremendous vocal ability, bordered with a smile that is so bright and comforting. There are too many stories of what a kind and vivacious woman she was.
Hailing from Texas, the youngest of three, Selena’s singing career started when she was quite young, leading Selena Y Los Dinos, a Tejano band with her siblings A.B. (bass guitar and song-writer) and Suzette (drums). They owned the stage of their father’s restaurant, quinceañeras, weddings and street corners. After the restaurant had to close, the band continued with mixed reviews. In 1982, the group was picked up by Freddie Records and they released a few promotional songs, performed at different local events and finished recording their first album. The record company felt the band wasn’t ready to release and promote their first album, placing them on a shelf. Selena’s father, Abraham, decided to drop their record deal with Freddie Records and search for another company that would take them more seriously.
With local record companies and their own accord, the Selena Y Los Dinos released six albums, gaining popularity, which earned Selena Best Female Vocalist at the Tejano Music Awards in 1987. It’s an award she dominated year after year until her death. In 1989, the band was signed with Capitol/EMI Records. Under her name alone, they released their debut album with Selena as the main focus. Four albums later, throw in a Grammy for her live album, Selena became the most successful female Tejano singer of all time. The genre is mostly dominated by men, which Selena shook up for sure by integrating pop and dance music into classic Tejano and cumbia sound with heartfelt lyrics. The sixth album, Dreaming of You, was the beginning of Selena’s cross over to mainstream media, yet was finished and released after her death.
It’s a shame she was taken away so young right when she was going to show the world what she can do with the ever-changing music industry. Not only has she left a legacy of amazing music, she started a clothing line which was sold in two boutiques she opened that also housed hair salons. This was no surprise since she designed all of her costumes, which were fun, over the top and full of her heritage. She starred in the telenovela Dos Mujeres, Un Camino (Two Women, One Path), which lead to negotiations for a starring role in another series. She also worked with D.A.R.E. and participated in countless rallies for education.
Now, moving on to my least favorite part of writing this post, Selena was sadly murdered, over petty intent, on March 31, 1995. I was seven years old at the time but I remember where I was when heard the news. I couldn’t believe it. The person at fault doesn’t deserve mention, so you must seek this information on your own. Selena’s death shocked the world and was treated with respect and dignity.
The summer of 1995, her album Dreaming of You was released. It contains some of the English songs she finished, along with some of her biggest Spanish hits. The album debuted at number one on the U.S. charts, making Selena the first Hispanic singer to accomplish this. If you’re in Corpus Christi, Texas, make sure to stop by and see the Mirador de la Flor, erected in honor of the talented Texan native. Of course, we all know about the biographical film that was made starring Jennifer Lopez.
Even though she is no longer with us, we can definitely keep her alive by listening to what she left behind. Recently, I chatted with a friend about Selena that doesn’t speak or understand Spanish. I was told she can’t appreciate Selena’s music because she doesn’t know the language, but, I don’t find this as a good enough reason. I listen to a lot of French, German and Italian musicians, ranging in different genres of music, really lead by the beats. If it sounds good, I’ll use an online translator to figure out the lyrics. They may not be 100% accurate but I’m able to get the gist of the songs. I encourage everyone to do this because it definitely helps in becoming more familiar with different languages. And, of course, why miss out on great music.
Below are a few live performances I found on the great and mighty YouTube that I enjoy immensely. Since Selena’s career wasn’t during the “viral era”, finding videos of her is a bit difficult but they are out there. The first video is of my favorite song of Selena’s, “Si Una Vez”. I listen to this song over and over and get excited when I hear it. The next is a great performance of the infamous songs “Como la Flor” and “Baila Esta Cumbia”. Also, I recently found a few post of Selena’s last concert in Houston, Texas in it’s entirety, which is epic! Every Selena fan wishes they, if they didn’t, could’ve attended.
Since her death, countless greatest hits albums have been released, including the most recent, Enamorada De Ti, which is available in stores, online and iTunes. I encourage everyone who reads this to become familiar with Selena, listen to every song, watch every video possible and simply enjoy and be inspired!