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Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was a famous Texan singer and songwriter. She was famous to the point of super stardom, and wildly loved by her fans. In the ’80s and ’90s, during her incredible career, Selena was commonly referred to simply as Selena – this was a long time before the days of Selena Gomez. Selena was also a model, spokeswoman, actress, and fashion designer. Born in 1971, it is hard not to wonder where Selena would be today, or what heights her success would have reached, had she not been shot and killed in 1995.
Selena was the youngest of three children. Her family was Mexican-American and part of the Jehovah’s Witness religion. Her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., noticed Selena’s musical ability when she was six years old. At the age of ten, Selena performed at her father’s restaurant along with her siblings. Selena’s father took Selena out of school when she was in the eighth grade so that she could focus on her musical career as she continued to grow in popularity. Selena eventually finished high school at the age of seventeen, through Chicago’s American School of Correspondence.
Selena began her career as a Tejano singer, which is a Spanish language genre that also has influences from country, jazz, and polka music. Selena wanted to record songs in English, but her father insisted that she should sing and record music that reflected her heritage. Selena’s father helped her learn Spanish phonetically so that she could record the Tejano albums in Spanish. Tejano music was largely dominated by male artists, so there were a lot of people who did not believe Selena could be successful in the industry. However, Selena experienced tremendous success. She was named as the Female Vocalist of the Year in the Tejano Music Awards for nine years in a row, starting in 1987.
In 1989, Selena recorded her first studio album, Selena. She continued to produce Tejano music, but brought the genre into popularity with a wider and younger audience, making it more mainstream. She continued to tour and record music, and grew even more popular.
In 1994, Selena began to design her own clothing line, called Selena, Etc. She opened two boutiques, both in Texas – one in San Antonio, and one in Corpus Christi. Each of them had a beauty salon in the store. Selena’s family hired Yolanda Saldivar to be the manager of these boutiques. Later that year, Saldivar signed on as Selena’s agent. She then moved to Corpus Christi from San Antonio to be in closer proximity to Selena. She displayed an obsessive devotion to the singer.
In 1995 it was discovered that Saldivar had been embezzling money from Selena’s fan club and boutiques. After refusing to turn over financial records and bank statements to Selena and her family, Saldivar shot Selena in a hotel room in Corpus Christi, fatally wounding the singer. After attempting to flee the scene, Saldivar had a standoff with police that lasted over nine hours. By the time she was arrested, hundreds of fans were gathered at the scene. 3000 fans attended a vigil for Selena in Corpus Christi, and about 40,000 lined up to view her body.
Although Selena’s life was tragically short, her impact on the world of music was undeniable. She has many fans even today, and has influenced many other musical artists.