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Selena, the Queen of Tejano Music

by Legacy Staff

Tejano musical sensation Selena was on her way to the top of the charts when she was murdered in 1995. On what would have been her 40th birthday, we present 23 facts about the talented young singer whose life ended at 23…

Tejano musical sensation Selena was on her way to the top of the charts when she was murdered in 1995. She was just 23 years old. On the singer’s birthday, we present 23 facts about the talented young singer whose life ended too soon.

1. Selena’s given name was Selena Quintanilla. She had no middle name – and her parents came up with her first name on the fly. They were expecting a boy and had only prepared the name Marc Antony.


2. A performer from the start, she began singing at age 3 and was fronting her own musical group, Selena y los Dinos, by age 9.

3. Selena recorded her first album in 1985, at age 14. Mis Primeras Grabaciones (My First Recordings) wasn’t sold in stores – and her father bought all the copies. It would be rereleased in 1995.

4. As Selena began to tour with her band, her father pulled her out of school in eighth grade. Selena continued to study and earned her high school diploma via correspondence school at age 17. In the years following, she often spoke in schools about the importance of earning a diploma.

5. Among Selena’s favorites: white roses, the colors purple and black, Chanel lipstick in the shade “Brick.” Selena also loved Whataburger, Jack in the Box, Pizza Hut and Olive Garden (she was a fan of fast food).

6. An animal lover, Selena had five dogs and a python. She once paid $300 to save a rabbit she hit with her car.

7. In 1986, Alpha was released – though it was Selena’s third album, it was often assumed to be her debut, thanks to the title.

8. The next year, Selena won Best Female Vocalist at the Tejano Music Awards. With the exception of 1988 – when she lost to Laura Canales – Selena would take Best Female Vocalist every following year until her death… and beyond, winning posthumously in 1996.

9. In 1989, Selena landed a record contract with Capitol/EMI and became the label’s first Latin artist (they were excited to sign her and thought she would be the next Gloria Estefan). Selena, her debut album with EMI, yielded her first entry on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks chart, “Contigo Quiero Estar.”

10. With her next album came her first No. 1 Hot Latin Tracks hit, “Buenos Amigos.” It was the first in a long string of hits that would dominate the chart for seven years.

11. Selena’s fan club was founded in 1990 by Yolanda Saldivar, with the blessings of the Quintanilla family.

12. Also in 1990, guitarist Chris Perez joined Selena’s band. The two soon began dating. Selena’s father didn’t approve of the relationship and fired Perez from the band. The couple continued to see each other and married on April 2, 1992. Needless to say, Perez rejoined the band.

13. Selena’s favorite singers included Garth Brooks, Gloria Estefan, Bonnie Raitt and Janet Jackson. Of her own music, Selena’s favorite was the single “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.”

14. Selena was the first Tejano musician ever to win a Grammy – for her album Live.

15. She filmed three Coca-Cola commercials, and in 1994, the company issued special Selena bottles. They quickly sold out.

16. That same year, Selena began designing clothing and opened a boutique, Selena Etc., with locations in Corpus Christi (her hometown) and San Antonio.

17. Selena’s fame continued to grow outside the Tejano world in 1995 – next up was a cameo as a mariachi singer in the romantic comedy Don Juan DeMarco. She was also in talks about starring in a telenovela.

18. In early 1995, Selena’s family discovered that fan club president Yolanda Saldivar was embezzling money. They removed her from her position.

19. Three weeks later, during a meeting between Saldivar and Selena to transfer some paperwork, Saldivar pulled a gun and shot Selena. The shot was fatal, but Selena was able to identify her attacker to hotel staff before she died.

20. Saldivar was sentenced to life in prison and is currently incarcerated at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas. She’ll be eligible for parole in 2025. She receives frequent death threats from Selena’s fans.

21. Selens’s funeral was attended by 60,000 mourners.

22. With Selena’s death came her entry to the Billboard 200 – her album Dreaming of You, released just a few months after her death, debuted at No. 1.

23. Jennifer Lopez portrayed Selena in the 1997 biopic Selena. The film earned Lopez a Golden Globe and an MTV Movie Award, and it launched her movie career. And it helped ensure that Selena’s musical legacy will live on.

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