The Prism: Every Side of the Story

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez: The Queen of Tejano music

On April 16th, 1971, in Lake Jackson, Texas, Selena Quintanilla was born. Selena was raised in a musical family (her father Abraham Jr was actually the lead in a rock and roll band in the 1950s-1960s until he decided to move on and start a family). Once Selena was 6 years old, her father saw blossoming talent within her. He taught Selena’s brother how to play the guitar and taught Selena how to sing in Spanish. He hoped that by performing in their traditional language, she would maintain a connection with the Latino community. Selena eventually learned to speak Spanish fluently and she began performing at her father’s restaurant. The family collectively went on tours as the family band, Selena y Los Dinos (Selena And The Boys – at only the age of ten, she became the lead singer). The band had many local fans that would visit the restaurant solely to hear Selena and the band. Eventually, the restaurant unfortunately failed and had to close down, and Selena’s father then moved the family to his hometown, Corpus Christi, Texas. 

At the age of eleven, Selena y Los Dinos opened a popular Tejano act called Mazz. The band began to perform in front of larger audiences with Selena in the spotlight. During this time of her childhood, Selena had stopped attending school at 8th grade to focus more on her musical career. However, she still took courses through the American School in Chicago and obtained her General Education Diploma in 1989. 

Selena continued her career, and her song “Como La Flor” became one of her first hits. Selena received the opportunity to join EMI records in 1989. The company believed that Selena could attract a very wide audience, not merely people who listened to Tejano. In 1991, Selena’s song featuring Alvaro Torres called Buenos Amigos (Good Friends) grew so much in popularity that it even became number one on Billboard’s Latin Charts. On April 2nd, 1992, Selena married Christopher Perez – the lead guitarist in her band. Selena’s music career continued, her audience grew bigger, and she produced some amazing hits (such as Dreaming Of You, My Love, Missing My Baby, etc.) Selena also won many awards such as Grammy Award for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Billboard Latin Music Award for Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Female, and ALMA Award for Outstanding Album. 

Tragedy occurred in 1995 when the president of Selena’s Fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, shot and killed Selena after Selena fired her for stealing money by forging checks. Yolando told Selena to go to the hotel they were staying at where she would “Give Selena some paperwork.”

Overall Selena still remains a leading figure in the Tejano community. “The reason I’m really appreciative of everything that’s going on around me is because of the fact that I never expected it, and I want to keep that attitude.” – Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.

Information found in: 

https://www.notablebiographies.com/Sc-St/Selena.html

https://www.biography.com/musician/selena

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/latinmusicusa/legends/selena/

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