With a sultry full mouth, raven colored curls and a mega watt smile…Selena was born to be a star. Donning an hour glass figure and deep, rich voice Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, better known as Selena, made heads turn and hips shake with her Tejano tunes and glittering style. With a career that started in childhood the “Mexican Madonna,” was a singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and beloved icon who left a tremendous footprint on the world.
Selena was the youngest daughter of Abraham and Marcela Quintanilla and Marcela Samora born in Lake Jackson, Texas. She began singing at the age of three and was leading her first band, Selena y los Dinos, with brother Abraham (A.B.) on bass and her sister Suzette on drums by the age of nine. After losing the family business, Los Dinos traveled everywhere performing at weddings to state fair and clubs.
Throughout the 1990s Selena was a top recording artist with numerous accolades, five albums and a string of No. 1 songs under her belt. Her sound combined traditional Tejano (polka-infused country western music) with Colombian cumbia, pop and R&B. The genre blending was a winning combination for the young Mexican-American who was crowned Queen of Tejano music.
Although known for her live performances, Selena recorded her first album at just 12 years old on a local label. She recorded six independent albums while touring with los Dinos until they were discovered by Sony Music Latin’s José Baher who signed to EMI Latin in 1989. Her biggest hits included “Como La Flor” and “Amor Prohibido.” Selena won the best female vocalist category for the first time in 1986 and each year for the remainder of her career.
Selena’s success quickly spawned telenovela and film appearances, an endorsement with Coca-Cola and even her own clothing line and retail shops, Selena, Etc. But her success was tempered by her close-knit family, her husband was band guitarist Chris Perez and her father continued to manage the group, as well as the charity work she did on behalf of women and children.
Just weeks shy of her 24th birthday Selena was murdered by a disgruntled former employee on March 31, 1995. Her untimely death and its circumstances stunned the world. Over 60,000 people attended her funeral in Corpus Christi and she is forever remembered with a statue in her hometown. Her posthumous album, Dreaming of You, included Spanish and English songs that were recorded for an album many believe would have catapulted her career. It debuted at No.1 on Billboard, making her the first ever Latina to reach such a milestone. Her beauty, grace and music will always leave us wanting more.
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