Died: March 31, 1995 in Corpus Christi, Texas
Trivia: Selena was a Texas girl and only spoke kitchen Spanish. She learned to sing her Spanish songs phonetically but later took intensive Spanish classes.
Selena was the youngest of three children born to Mexican-American Abraham Quintanilla and Marcella. Her father loved music and formed a band with Selena, sister Suzette and brother A.B. (A.B. Quintanilla III of Los Kumbia Kings / Kumbia All Starz fame). Selena was 6 years old, but her father claims he could tell she was destined for a musical career because she had perfect pitch and timing.
Quintanilla Sr. had performed as a vocalist with "Los Dinos" (The Boys) when he was young so when he opened a restaurant named "Papagallos" a few years later, the newly formed band Selena Y Los Dinos were the featured performers. The restaurant failed, the family went bankrupt and relocated to Corpus Christi, TX. But the band hit the road, performing at weddings, cantinas and festivals throughout southern Texas.
Quintanilla pulled Selena out of school when she was in the eighth grade so that she could stay on the road. She ultimately passed her high school equivalency exam via correspondence school.
In the beginning, Selena y Los Dinos was a small band comprised primarily of Selena, Suzette and A.B. Over the next few years, they added a few members and started recording for a small, local label. Their first album, Mi Primeras Grabaciones came out in 1984 although it wasn't sold in any stores; Quintanilla would carry the album with him and pitch them at the band's performances.
The band recorded 5 albums in this manner, including Alpha in 1986; Preciosa and Dulce Amor came out in 1988. The previous year, Selena won the Tejano Music Award for 'Best Female Vocalist" and "Best Female Performer". She was 15.
The World Notices Selena:
For the next 7 years, Selena would continue to win award after award. In 1989, she signed a record contract with Capitol/EMI and made a string of albums including Ven Conmigo, Entre A Mi Mundo and Baile Esta Cumbia. Her 1993 album Selena Live! won the "Best Mexican-American Album" Grammy, making Selena the only Tejano artist to win a Grammy award.
Marriage and Business:
Things were going well in Selena's personal life. Chris Perez was hired to perform in Selena's band and the two were married in 1992, after overcoming her father's objections and agreeing to move into the house next door. Perez is still in the family business performing with brother A.B.'s Kumbia Kings/Kumbia All Starz.
Selena also began to capitalize on her fame in other ways. She opened Selena Etc. Inc, a company that included boutiques that sold her clothing line.
Fan Club & Yolanda Saldivar:
The family had avoided fan clubs up until 1990. That's the year Selena met Yolanda Saldivar. Saldivar was the aunt of one of Selena's childhood friends, although they were strangers at that point. Convincing the family that a fan club would be a good idea and professing great admiration for the singer, Saldivar became the president of Selena's fan club - an unpaid position that soon boasted over 9000 members.
Selena and her father confronted Saldivar. The Washington Post reported that Saldivar was actually fired by phone the evening of March 29th and that the fan club president simply said "OK". The next day Saldivar called back and made arrangements to meet with Selena so that she could hand over some paperwork.
On the morning of March 31, 1995 Selena went to the Days Inn in Corpus Christi to meet with Saldivar. We can only guess what was said, but a short time later, as Selena was leaving the room, Saldivar shot her in the back. Selena made it to the lobby before collapsing. She died at the hospital a few hours later.
It was 2 weeks before her 24th birthday.
While Selena's young life was prematurely ended, she continues to win awards and sell records. Her popularity has only grown with her death into the new millenium Dreaming Of You was earmarked to be her crossover album and was almost done. The amazing fact is that when it was rereleased in 2002, it went 4x platinum.
Selena may have lost her life, but her voice has not been stilled.
Mi Primeras Grabaciones Selena y Los Dinos (1984, 1995)