Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
Known as the "Queen of Tejano music," Selena Quintanilla was a beloved Mexican-American singer who in her short life released 5 solo albums and made millions of fans across the world fall in love with her charisma, talent and charm. Though her life was tragically cut short at 23, Selena's legacy and inspiration live on. Let's take a look at some spectacular facts about the beloved late singer.
1. Selena was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. She was the youngest child of Marcella and Abraham Quintanilla Jr. and had an older brother and sister, A.B. and Suzette.
2. Abraham first noticed Selena’s musical gifts when she was six years old. He once told People magazine, “Her timing, her pitch were perfect. I knew it from day one.”
3. After their Tex-Mex restaurant, Papa Gayo’s was forced to close following a recession, the family was evicted from their home and filed for bankruptcy.
4. In the early 1980s, Selena and her siblings formed Selena y Los Dinos and performed at weddings, quinceañeras and at their father’s restaurant.
5. Selena y Los Dinos released their first full-length album in 1984 entitled Selena y Los Dinos - Mis Primeras Grabaciones.
6. In 1987, Selena received the Female Vocalist of the Year award at the Tejano Music Awards.
7. Selena y Los Dinos signed with GP Productions in 1987 for a yearly contract. The group would release five successful independent albums: Alpha, Munequito De Trapo (Rag Doll), And the Winner Is..., Preciosa (Precious) and Dulce Amor.
8. In 1989, the group became one of the first acts signed by EMI Latin Records, a label created by Cuban-American music executive José Behar.
9. Behar first noticed Selena when she performed at the 1989 Tejano Music Awards. Behar was so impressed by the songstress and how the whole place “blew up” with excitement by her on stage charisma and performance. Soon after, he signed Selena as a solo artist.
10. Upon discovering Selena’s talent, Behar believed she would be “the next Gloria Estefan.”
11. In 1989, Selena released her self-titled debut album, with her siblings performing on stage with her and her brother serving as principal music producer and songwriter.
12. Selena increased the singer’s popularity and led her to win Female Vocalist of the Year and Female Entertainer of the Year at the 1990 Tejano Music Awards.
13. In 1992, Selena released Entre a Mi Mundo and became a breakthrough album for the performer. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican albums chart for eight consecutive months.
14. “Como la Flor” from the album became one of her most popular signature songs, and was certified 9 times platinum (Latin).
15. Live! (1993) won Selena Best Mexican/American Album at the 1994 Grammy Awards, becoming the first female Tejano artist to do so.
16. Selena released Amor Prohibido in 1994, which went on to become one of the best-selling Latin albums in the United States. It featured successful singles including “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”, “Si Una Vez” and “Fotos y Recuerdos.”
17. In 1994, she became the first female crossover Latin artist signed to SBK, a sister label to EMI Latin.
18. Selena fell in love with Chris Pérez, guitarist of her family band Selena y Los Dinos. Her father Abraham forced them to end their relationship because he felt Pérez might tarnish her reputation. The two ignored his threats and continued their romance.
19. Abraham went on to fire Pérez from the group, and forbid Selena to be with him. Selena and Chris secretly continued dating and eventually eloped on April 2, 1992.
20. Hours after their elopement, the media caught wind of the nuptials and Selena’s family tried to track her down. Though initially Abraham did not take the news well, he eventually apologized to Pérez and accepted him back in the band.
21. In 1994, Selena played a small part as a mariachi singer in Don Juan DeMarco (1995), opposite Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando.
22. That same year, Selena performed at the Astrodome for 60,948 fans. She would break that massive record the following year on February 26, 1995 with 61,000 fans.
23. Selena always loved fashion and clothes and learned how to sew at a young age. She opened her own boutique, Selena Etc. in 1993 in South Texas.
24. In 1995, Selena won 6 Tejano Music Awards, including Top Female Vocalist of the Year for the eighth time.
25. Selena was very active in the U.S. Latin community, often visiting local schools to talk to students about the importance of education. She also donated her time to civic organizations including D.A.R.E. and planned a fundraising concert to help AIDS patients.
26. In 1995, she was prepared to release her first English-language album Dreaming of You, which was released posthumously. It sold 175,000 copies on its first day in the U.S. and 331,000 its first week.
27. Selena was tragically shot and killed by her boutique manager Yolanda Saldívar on March 31, 1995 at just 23 years old.
28. Saldívar had embezzled more than $30,000 via forged checks from Selena’s fan club and the boutique. After shooting Selena, Saldívar surrendered after a nearly 9-and-a-half hour standoff with police and FBI as she sat in a pickup truck.
29. 50,000 people attended a public viewing for Selena at the Bayfront Plaza Convention Center in April 1995.
30. Saldívar was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
31. A bronze life-size sculpture of Selena at the Mirador de la Flor was unveiled May 25, 1997 in Corpus Christi.
32. In 1997, the Selena biopic Selena was released starring Jennifer Lopez as the beloved Tejano singer. The movie was a commercial and critical success and helped propel Lopez into stardom and honored the talented and cherished Selena.
33. The Selena Museum is located at 5410 Leopard St. in Corpus Christi and features Selena’s outfits, car, Grammy, early fashion sketches and more.
34. On November 3, 2017 Selena received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
35. On September 30, 2016 MAC Cosmetics released the MAC Selena Makeup Line at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.
36. A biographical series based on the life and legacy of Selena is set to air in December on Netflix, and stars Christian Serratos as the beloved singer. The two-part series was done with the participation of the Quintanilla family.
© 2020 Rachel M Johnson