Too many artists' lives have been cut short before they reached their full potential. Selena was one of them. She was on the verge of a huge crossover career when she was shot and killed at the age of 23 by her fan club president.
Selena Quintanilla Perez was born to Mexican-American parents on April 16, 1971, in Lake Jackson, TX. Selena's Father, Abraham, always had a great passion for music; and in the late 50's and early 60's had his own group, "Los Dinos" (The Guys). Selena started showing an interest in music at the age of three when she started singing. When she was 6, Abraham began to phonetically teach her how to sing in Spanish.
Abraham put a group together along with daughter Suzette on drums, son A.B. on bass, (who later wrote and produced many of Selena's songs), and Selena as vocalist. He named the group "Selena y Los Dinos", a tip of the hat to his former group. Their first performance was in 1980 in the Quintanilla's restaurant, Papa Gayos. The restaurant later went bankrupt; and Abraham moved his family to Corpus Christi.
In 1984 Selena, now 12, and the group, cut their first album, "Selena y Los Dinos", on the Freddie Label. It did not sell well; and Abraham changed the group's affiliation from the Freddie Label to Cara Records and finally to the Manny Label. He bought the rights to the "Selena y Los Dinos" album, which was eventually released in 1995 as "Mis Primeras Grabaciones" (My First Recordings).
Two more albums were released between 1985-86. In 1986 Selena had two major events in her life -- She was discovered by Johnny Canales, the host of one of the top Spanish TV shows, and Rick Trevi, founder of the Tejano Music Awards; and she won the Tejano Music Awards Best Female vocalist. She continued to win that award every year through 1996. 1987-88 brought the release of three more albums.
In 1989 EMI President, Jose Behar, attended the Tejano Music Awards and later signed Selena to the EMI Label. Selena and her group were finally brought into the public spotlight in a major way. In April of 1992 Selena married her lead guitarist, Chris Perez, and "Entre a Mi Mundo" (Enter My World) went gold. 1993 brought a Grammy for Best Mexican-American performance for her album "Selena Live".
Selena was now on a meteoric rise. She was known as "the Queen of Tejano" music (Tejano music is a combination of country-western, polkas and Mexican folk music sung in Spanish) and the equivalent of a Spanish Madonna. In 1993 she began designing and manufacturing her own clothing line and opened two boutiques -- one in Corpus Christi and one in San Antonio. In 1994 Selena won another Grammy. Selena was a star in the Mexican and Latin American markets but still relatively unknown in the U.S.
Billboard named Selena the Top Latin Artist of the 90's and the Best-Selling Latin Artist of the Decade. Selena had 14 Top 10 Singles including 7 Number 1 Hits.
In 1995 Selena started to record her first English-language album, "Dreaming of You". She was ready to cross over into the U.S. market.
Yolanda Saldivar was Selena's fan club President and manager of the Corpus Christi boutique, Selena, Etc. Yolanda and Selena had become so close since they first met in 1991 that Selena called Yolanda "mother". Rumors began circulating that Yolanda was embezzling money from the fan club and boutique. Bills were coming up unpaid; and the books were not correct. Yolanda had not paid back loans from nursing school and had stolen money from a previous employer. Selena refused to believe that her confidant was to blame; but Abraham was furious.
On March 9, 1995 Abraham confronted Yolanda, accusing her of taking money from the fan club and boutique. Yolanda had no answers for Abraham and he threatened her with legal action. Yolanda went out and bought a gun, supposedly to protect herself from Abraham.
On March 31, 1995 Selena met Yolanda at a Corpus Christi Days Inn to pick up some paperwork needed for tax purposes. An argument ensued; and Yolanda shot Selena in the back as she tried to get away. The shot was fatal; and 23-year-old Selena was dead.
60, 000 people showed up for Selena's funeral. Later in 1995 her album, "Dreaming of You" was released. It hit the U. S. Billboard 200 charts at #1. I have that album; and I can tell you that it's wonderful. If Selena had lived to be around when that album was released, most of America would now know who she was. As it is, I recently ran a poll on one of the survey/social sites. I asked which of Selena's songs did the respondents like best (I had included YouTube video clips for three of them). One of the options was "Who's Selena?". 75% responded that they had no idea who Selena was and obviously had not seen the 1997 movie "Selena" starring Jennifer Lopez.
These three songs from the album, "Dreaming of You", personify what Selena was...passionate, loving, caring, so full of life!
"I Could Fall In Love"
"Dreaming of You"
"Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" - performing an upbeat song in Spanish
As someone who loved her music and knew the caliber of artist that she was, I will miss her.
Update On Oct 13, 2010: The link in the article shows "Dreaming of You" but is actually a link for "I Could Fall in Love". Please use the following link for "Dreaming of You". Sorry for the inconvenience.