Historical story

Selena - the tragic story of the first Latino superstar

The story of Selena Quintanilla is like a movie script about the birth of a star whose potential was to change popular music, and whose success would bring eternal fame. And in a way it happened. However, the notoriety behind Selena's name was marked by a tragedy - the unexpected departure of a young woman, who was left with nothing but emptiness and her songs.

Selena was born on April 16, 1971 in Texas as the youngest of three children of Marcella and Abraham Quintanill. In addition to Mexican roots, the family also had Indian ancestors from the Cherokee tribe, whose blood flowed in the veins of Selena's mother.

From an early age, the girl had contact with the music that filled her family home thanks to her father. In his youth, Abraham performed in the band The Dinos, which played in the 1950s and 1960s, which is why he wanted his children to follow in his footsteps. Son of A.B. taught him to play the guitar, and persuaded his older daughter, Suzette, to play drums, but the breakthrough came when 6-year-old Selena revealed her vocal abilities. Her talent pushed Abraham to found the band Selena y Los Dinos in 1981.

Initially, they performed in a family restaurant. After her bankruptcy caused by the recession of the early 1980s, the family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas. There, Abraham put everything on one card and became a full-time manager of the band, which from then on played at weddings and festivals. The concerts allowed the family not only to make ends meet, but also to gain and meet new audiences, which were the ones most willingly entertained to the rhythms of Tejano's music.

It was in this genre that Abraham saw a chance for success, but he realized that in addition to covers, their repertoire should include at least a few original songs, which he had been creating and producing together with his son A.B.

There was one more minor hurdle that they had to overcome on their way to the Tejano Hall of Fame ... to teach Selena to speak Spanish.

Way to the top

The future queen of Tejano began her adventure with Spanish from a phonetic learning of songs, talking to her father and watching Mexican soap operas. It paid off because in 1984 she recorded her first Spanish-language album "Mis Primeras Grabaciones", with which she went on tour.

It wasn't easy - Tejano's music was a male-dominated genre. Due to her gender and young age, Selena y Los Dinos were often rejected by the owners of the premises where they planned concerts. However, with her voice and engaging personality, the young singer began to win the hearts of fans, gaining more and more fame.

The first significant breakthrough came in 1987 with winning the title of Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards, a success she repeated nine more times. Subsequent albums brought increased interest in Selena in both the USA and Mexico, and this was followed by a contract with the EMI Latin label.

Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr. in 2020

The songs began to climb the charts, arousing more and more interest and bringing collaboration with brands such as Coca-Cola. Selena Quintanilla entered the golden age of her career. Her concerts from fair performances turned into a show gathering thousands of people , which forced A.B. and Abraham to decide to enlarge the composition of Selena y Los Dinos.

In this way, guitarist Chris Pérez joined the band, who not only strengthened the sound of the group, but also stole the heart of the singer.

Forbidden love

Selena and Chris became very affectionate very quickly. Unfortunately, they both knew that it would not be approved by the girl's father. In his eyes, Pérez with his long hair and rock clothes was a ruin that could lead to the break-up of the band and the end of his 19-year-old daughter's career. So the young people decided to hide the relationship from everyone.

They managed to keep the relationship a secret for a long time, but sooner or later the truth had to come out. It was due to Selena's sister, Suzette, who stumbled across the couple while flirting and immediately announced her discovery to her father . Enraged by the whole situation, he ordered them to end their relationship, and when they refused, he kicked Pérez out of the band.

However, the separation of the lovers did not last long. On April 2, 1992, the couple decided to escape and get married secretly which they took the same day. But even this time it was not possible to keep everything secret. Within hours, the media reported Selena's change in marital status.

For Abraham, it was a blow that he could not overcome. In interviews after his daughter's wedding, he spoke of his concerns about Chris and his impact on the possible end of Selena's career. Time, however, dispelled the doubts and Quintanilla finally made peace with Pérez by taking him into the family - and back into the team.

Chris and Selena before the show.

A month after the wedding, Selena released her next album "Entre a Mi Mundo", which featured her biggest hit "Como la Flor". The album was covered with 10 times platinum, strengthening Selena's position on the American and Mexican markets. A year later, she released the album "Live!", Recorded during a concert at the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, for which almost all the awards she considered, including the Grammy for the best Mexican-American album.

Selena also began to attract attention with her unique creations, which she largely designed or co-created . More and more girls wanted to look like her, and the star herself dreamed of becoming a fashion designer from an early age. Nobody suspected that the realization of this dream would cost her her life ...

Queen of Tejano

In 1994, the singer opened two boutiques under the name Selena Etc., which combined a clothing store with a beauty salon. Their development contributed to including the singer among the 20 richest Spanish-speaking musicians in the US.

However, after another studio album "Amor Prohibido", released in March of the same year, the girl was unable to manage the stores on her own. For this task, she decided to delegate Yolanda Saldívar, who has been overseeing her official fan club in San Antonio for several years.

"Amor Prohibido" turned out to be Selena's greatest success. The album was certified 36 times platinum, making her the title of Queen of Tejano and opening the way to the recording of an English-language album . The concert tour promoting the album took her to the Houston Astrodome, where her biggest concert in the US took place for over 66,000 viewers. It took place on February 26, 1995 and was Selena's last such big show.

At the beginning of the year, Abraham began receiving disturbing calls from his daughter's lovers who, despite regular payments at her fan club, did not receive the promised gadgets. He started an investigation which revealed that Yolanda Saldívar had embezzled over $ 30,000 from the club and boutiques . On the basis of these findings, he led to a confrontation between a woman and Selena and Suzette at the headquarters of their family company Q-Productions. He presented inconsistencies in the funds and demanded evidence from Yolanda to prove her innocence. He announced that if he did not deliver them, he would notify the police. He also forbade Yolanda from contacting his younger daughter.

The woman was to return all the financial documents necessary for the tax settlement. However, Saldívar delayed their handover, which eventually forced Selena to come to the Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi, where she was temporarily staying, and collect them in person.

A tragic end

The meeting took place on the morning of March 31, 1995. Saldívar played for time, claiming she was raped during her brief stay in Mexico. Selena took the woman to a local hospital, but was sent back empty-handed, arguing that the alleged assault had taken place in another country. The women returned to the motel, where the singer again demanded the return of the documents. In response, Yolanda Saldívar took out her revolver and fired it at Selena, damaging her aorta.

Selena's tomb

The 23-year-old girl was taken to hospital, where she died as a result of significant blood loss.

The news of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez's death plunged the entire musical world into sadness, and reactions to her departure were compared to those after the deaths of Elvis Presley or John Lennon . Condolences flowed to the family from the biggest stars, including Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias and Madonna. Her name was permanently inscribed in the Latino music pantheon, and her birthday was designated Selena Day in Texas by then-Governor Georg W. Bush.

The Quintanilla family still cherishes the memory of their daughter and sister, promoting her music and supporting young Latino artists. Based on the tragic history of Selena, there was also a musical, a biographical film with Jennifer Lopez in the lead role and a series on Netflix.

Yolanda Saldívar was sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime she committed.