Con Tanto Amor: Selena Quintanilla

“If you have a dream don’t let anybody take it away. And always believe that the impossible is always possible.” -Selena Quintanilla Perez

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Con Tanto Amor: Selena Quintanilla

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Updated: October 11, 2018 9:44 PM

Selena Quintanilla Perez was a Mexican/American singer, songwriter, spokesperson and fashion designer who was born in 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. In her early childhood she was the lead singer in Selena y Los Dinos, a family band. Together they would play at weddings and their father’s restaurant. In the band was her brother Abraham on the bass guitar, and her sister Suzette on the drums. Her father was the manager of the band and he was also the one who persuaded them to start practicing daily. Eventually, as Selena liked to say, all of their forced work payed off.


At the age of nine, Selena y Los Dinos began travelling all over the state, and by the time Quintanilla was in the eighth grade, she took the stage by storm and the crowd fell in love with her. Aside from her touring, Quintanilla took the time to also record music. She was first signed with Corpus Christi’s Freddie label where she recorded “Mis Primeras Grabaciones” in 1984. After the album didn’t sell so well the band switched to Cara and Manny record labels, but her albums didn’t sell any better either.


It wasn’t until 1989, when the band joined EMI Records, that she had a real and major company supporting her and her band. The head of the company, Jose Behar, understood that Selena could appeal to a wide audience, not only Tejano music fans. Her single released in 1991, called “Buenos Amigos” (Good Friends), quickly became a hit. The song rose to number one on the Billboard’s Latin chart, a success which introduced her to different types of audiences. Along with other hits like, “Donde Quiero Que Estes” (Where I Want You To Be). Selena grew in popularity and began to reach wider markets of music.


On April 2, 1992, she married Christopher Perez, who was the lead guitarist in the band. Together they shared the band’s successfully growing career and popularity, particularly in Mexico. More than sixty thousand people watched her perform in Houston on February 1994. A month later her album, “Selena Live,” won a Grammy Award for best Mexican American album. Her fame increased in record sales as well. In July of 1994, Selena y Los Dinos released “Amor Prohibido” (Forbidden Love), which sold more than one million copies and it became the top selling album of that year, not only that but it got named the Tejano Music Awards’ album of the year.


Selena Quintanilla holding her well-deserved Grammy Award in 1994.

Quintanilla was compared to many successful English-language artists like Madonna, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. Eventually, she was eager to make an album in her first language, English, to perhaps have the same amount of success these other artists had. Selena was moved to a different record company which made mostly English-language records. There she began recording new songs for a new English-language album.


On March 31, 1995, Selena was murdered by the president of her fan club: Yolanda Saldivar. Saldivar was a close friend of Selena’s and was like a mother to her. Millions of fans mourned her death, and her album “Dreaming of You” was released after her death. This album became a huge hit and sold more than a million copies.


In her honor, a movie, starring Jennifer Lopez, was released which narrated Quintanilla’s life from her early childhood through to her tragic death. MAC Cosmetics also recently launched a makeup collection in collaboration with Selena’s sister, Suzette, based on Selena’s most iconic looks. The collection is named after some of Selena’s most popular songs like “Amor Prohibido,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” and “Como La Flor.” Many YouTubers have jumped in and recreated famous looks by Selena. Popular YouTuber Desi Perkins created this look using the MAC Selena Collection. Other popular makeup gurus like Carli Bybel and iluvsarahii created stunning looks based upon the most iconic Selena looks.


In her hometown of Corpus Christi, the Quintanilla family built a museum in 1998 in response to the many thousands of fans who expressed their desire to have Selena’s memory be shared to the public. The museum serves as a memorial, and it includes memorable outfits she wore, as well as her red porsche and awards. 


Selena wanted to be remembered as more than an entertainer. During an interview in Houston, she said she wished to be remembered as a person who not only cared, but wanted to be the best role model that she could be. Many young girls back then and now claim that Selena Quintanilla was a role model to them, myself included. Her positivity, kindness and drive made her a role model to millions of people. Her father had this to say about her: “Her fans viewed her as a positive, humble person and I’ve always believed that in Selena’s case it was not just the music but the person who made an impact.” Even after her passing Selena remains present not only in the music industry, but also in the lives of the people she changed.


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