Selena Quintanilla: An Hispanic Icon

Even though Hispanic Heritage Month is over, millions of people continue to celebrate Selena Quintanilla, also known as the “Queen of Tejano Music.” Selena was beloved but was tragically murdered by the president of her own fan club at the age of 23 in 1995.

Selena, the youngest child of the Quintanilla family, grew up in Lake Jackson, Texas. Her father, Abraham was a former musician and started the family band called Selena Y Los Dinos which later opened up to band members who weren’t family. She was only ten years old when she became the lead singer of the band. She only knew English but learned Spanish throughout her singing career. As she booked gigs for weddings and clubs, she became known as ‘Mexican Madonna’, for her different styles of music, like country, western, and Tejano, her sense of fashion style, and her amazing dance moves. 

The number of awards she won over the years were groundbreaking. She won her first career Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album for Live at the 36th Grammy Awards in 1994, marking the first time a female Tejano artist won the category. As she became more successful, she gained fans not just from Texas and Mexico but around the world. Some of her award winning songs include “Dreaming Of You” and “Como La Flor”. She ended up finding love within her band with the lead guitarist, Chris Perez. They spent three years together before she was killed. 

Selena became very close with the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar. Selena cared about Saldivar deeply and she seemed to be like a second mother to Selena. For Saldivar, her relationship with Selena became more of an obsession. Selena’s father suspected that Saldivar was taking money from them and their company. Her father consulted Selena and she agreed to fire Saldivar, who failed to prove her innocence. On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot and killed by Saldivar. The fans showed an overwhelming amount of love to Selena after she died. Police later found in Saldivar’s apartment a shrine for the singer. Saldivar was sentenced to life in prison but may be up for parole in 2025. 

If you are interested in more of Selena’s life and rise to prominence, there are currently many documentaries. There is a movie called Selena: The Movie starring Jennifer Lopez and a series on Netflix called Selena: The Series which stars Christian Serratos. The documentaries, shows, and movies about Selena’s life all are amazing and worth watching. 

Selena’s legacy is still alive around the world. On November 3, 2017 Selena was honored on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The day became known as Selena Day. In Texas, Representative Ana-Maria Ramos introduced a bill to make April 16, which was Selena’s Birthday, a holiday. There is even a museum dedicated to Selena which was set up by her siblings from the band. Her legacy lives on and continues to inspire others everyday.