Selena, the Queen of Tejano Music

Ms. Selena Quintanilla-Perez was born in the year 1971.  Although her life was short she accomplished so many things and her music continues to live.

Born in Texas, Selena’s career began at home when she and her siblings started the band Selena y Los Dinos.   Selena was only nine years old when they started the family band.  The band didn’t perform outside of the family restaurant, but when the restaurant and the family went bankrupt, Selena’s family packed up and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas. I n Corpus Christi, the family continued to perform their music at various venues.  Then in 1984 Selena recorded her first album, Selena y Los Dinos, through Freddie Records, owned by Freddie Martinez.  Though Selena’s first language was English, she had learned to sing in Spanish and recorded this album in Spanish.  The album wasn’t sold in stores and Martinez didn’t see how Selena could break into Tejano, a genre dominated by men. This same album was also released a decade later under the name Mis Primeras Grabaciones.

A year later Selena released her second album, The New Girl in Town, released on Cara Records.   The following year, in 1986,  she released her third album, Alpha, followed by Muñequito de Trapo in 1987.  Selena was awarded “Female Vocalist of the Year” at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards.  It wasn’t a surprise when she continued to win in the same category for the next several years.   After winning several awards Selena released another album, And the Winner Is… 1988.  Her last two independent albums were Preciosa and Dulce Amor.

In 1989, Selena was offered a contract from both Sony Music Latin and Capitol Records/EMI music.  At the time though, Sony had several Tejano artists signed with them and EMI didn’t so Selena was the first to sign with EMI in this genre.  In the same year she released her first studio album called Selena.  This was also the first album to headline her as the artist Selena rather than Selena y Los Dinos.  From this album came the single “Contigo Quiero Estar” (“With You, I Want To Be”) which became the artist’s first single to ever appear on any music chart.  In fact, it appeared on the Billboard chart.

Following the release of Selena, the artist released Ven Conmigo (Come With Me) in the same year.  Remarkably, this album was the first Tejano album recorded by a female artist to ever achieve gold status for high sales, roughly about 500,000 albums.  The album remained on Billboard‘s Regional Mexican Albums for fifty-six straight weeks, an accomplishment also previously unaccomplished by a Tejano artist.

In the ’90s, Selena released four more albums; Entre a Mi Mundo (Enter My World) in 1992, Selena Live! in 1993, Amor Prohibido (Forbidden Love) in 1994 and Dreaming of You in 1995.  Entre a Mi Mundo reached number-one on Billboard’s Regional Mexican Albums chart, and it also entered the Top Latin 50 chart.  From this album came the song “Como La Flor” (“Like a Flower”), which peaked at number-one on the Latin charts.  More importantly, this is the single that helped solidify Selena’s acceptance by the country of Mexico.

Selena Live! earned her a Grammy at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards for the category of “Best Mexican-American Album”.  This album also sold more than two copies, and making Selena the first Tejano artist to ever win a Grammy.

Selena went on to top several Latin music charts, win more awards,headline in a sponsorship tour with Coca-Cola (with whom she’d signed a contract with in 1989 to be one of their spokespersons for advertising in her home state of Texas), and expand the Tejano Music Movement across the country. Thanks to these accomplishments, her label, EMI felt that the artist was ready to release a crossover album. With this decision reached. Selena went on to sign with a company called SBK Records.

In 1994, Selena released Amor Prohibido, another album which was nominated for a Grammy award for “Mexican-American Album of the Year”.  The single by the same name was also nominated for a Grammy Award that year.  The album sold more than 400,000 copies in the United States and 50,000 copies in Mexico, which was unheard of for a Tejano artist.   In 1994 more good things came Selena’s way including “Best Regional Mexican Album” for her album from the previous year, Selena Live!, “Best Regional Mexican Female Arist” awards from the Billboard Latin Music Awards, the “Best Female Vocalist” award from the Premio Lo Nuestro Awards.  As her career continued, Armor Prohibido was considered a commercial success in Mexico, and the album became “Latin’s Best-Selling Album of all Time.”  One of the songs from the album, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” was even awarded as the Bertelsmann Music Group’s “Song of the Year.”

Outside of her musical career, Selena created a line of clothing that sold in two boutiques in Texas.  She was also signing on to do commercials for brands such as Southwestern Bell’s Call Notes voice-mail system and Dep Corporation’s Agree shampoo.  To honor her loyalty with Coca-Cola, the company released a special commemorative bottle.  Nearly 5,000 bottles were created and sold in 1994.  Selena was also in discussions for creating her own line of perfume,.  She was also negotiating to become a star of a new telenovela.

Selena dedicated much of her time to her acts of philanthropy.   She helped with charities such as Toys for Tots and the D.A.R.E campaign for schools.  She held several benefit concerts and free concerts so that everyone would have the chance to hear her music.  She traveled around the state of Texas to speak to children about staying in school and discouraging them from ever trying drugs and alcohol. S he also not only planned a fundraising concert to help AIDS patients, but she was also donating her own money for the HIV/AIDS research programs in the country.

Unfortunately, Selena’s life was tragically cut short in 1995, at age 23, at the hands of a woman named Yolanda Saldívar.  Saldívar originated as the president of the Selena fan club and then she was the manager of Selena’s boutiques.  It was later discovered that Saldívar was embezzling money and she was shortly fired.   Saldívar had stolen not only money, but financial papers from the singer.  Selena met with her to obtain the papers and when she did Saldívar shot Selena.

Selena’s death struck a cord throughout the country and the news spread rapidly.  Her death was front page news for The New York Times for two days straight.  People magazine released a commemorative issue honoring and highlighting the late Tejano singer; it sold nearly a million copies within two weeks.

A few months after her death, her highly-anticipated crossover album, Dreaming of You was released.  Dreaming of You was a combination of Spanish and English songs on the album and it debuted at number-on on the Billboard 200.  She was the first Hispanic singer to reach such a goal, and it was the second highest debut in history.  The album itself sold over 175,000 copies on the day it was released, and 3.5 million copies in the first year.  Songs from Selena’s album were played on English mainstream radio, including singles “I Could Fall in Love” and the single named after the album, “Dreaming of You.”

In honor of Selena’s death, a biographical film was released two years after the incident starring Jennifer Lopez in the titular role.  The film was nominated for six ALMA Awards, a Grammy Award, A Golden Globe Award and an MTV Movie Award.  Selena’s death also affected the entire state of Texas. In addition to the film, her life was also chronicled in the musical Selena Forever which appeared in 2000.  Governor George W. Bush not only declared April 16th as “Selena Day” in the state, he also signed a law legalizing carrying a concealed weapon in the state of Texas, a law that passed after a 124 year-long-ban.  Selena was inducted into the “Latin Music Hall of Fame” in the year 1995, and in that same year, the Selena Youth Center was founded.  This center is designed to assist young women reach their goals and become productive.

Worldwide, Selena has sold roughly 52,300,00 copies of her albums. She’s still regarded as the “Queen of Tejano” and she’s among the best-selling artists in the United States to this day.

One comment on “Selena, the Queen of Tejano Music

  1. Pingback: Jennifer Lopez « FILMLOOK Media and Post

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