Selena Quintanilla was an American singer, songwriter, model, fashion designer, and actress. She was widely famous as the ‘Queen of Tejano Music.’ She is viewed as one of the most outstanding Mexican-American singers of the late 20th century.
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was born on Friday, April 16, 1971 (age 23 years at the time of death), at Freeport Community Hospital, Brazosport, Texas. She was brought up in Lake Jackson, Texas.
Her elementary schooling was carried out at Oran M Roberts Elementary School, Dallas, Texas. She began singing at a very young age and along with her siblings, she used to perform with her father’s band (Los Dinos) at her father’s Tex-Mex restaurant ‘Papagayos’ in Lake Jackson.
When the 1980s oil glut caused a recession in the United States, her father had to close down Papagayos and her family went bankrupt, migrating to Corpus Christi, Texas. She attended West Oso Junior High School in Corpus Christi while performing with the band ‘Selena y Los Dinos.’ As her popularity as a singer grew, she faced problems with her education and her teachers (Marilyn Greer) shows their dissent over her career as a musician as they believed that a lot of pressure was put on her at a young age. Her teacher (Marilyn Greer) went on to threaten her father that she would report her father to the Texas Board of Education. After this, her father took her out of school in class 8 and admitted her to the American School of Correspondence in Chicago from where she graduated at the age of seventeen. She was accepted at Louisiana State University but did her majors in Business Administration in correspondence from the Pacific Western University in Hawaii. TSHA – Selena Profile
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Family & Ethnicity
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., is a former musician. Her mother’s name is Marcella Ofelia Quintanilla (née Samora).
She had an elder brother named Abraham III, aka A.B. (song producer and guitarist), and an elder sister named Suzette Quintanilla (former musician).
Relationships & Husband
In 1989, Chris Pérez, a musician and songwriter, became a member of her band ‘Selena y Los Dinos.’ After spending some time with Selena, he started developing romantic feelings for Selena despite being in a relationship with a girl from San Antonio. He decided to pursue Selena after he failed to distance himself from her. After some time, Chris and Selena confessed that they liked each other at a Pizza Hut restaurant and soon came into a relationship. Knowing that their father would not accept their relationship, they tried to hide their relationship until her sister, Suzette, exposed them. Chris and Selena began dating in secret after her father warned Chris and declared their relationship to be over. Her mother was in the favour of their relationship. On April 2, 1992, Selena and Chris ran away and got married at Nueces County Courthouse, in a belief that their relationship will never be accepted by her father, and once married, he (her father) would have to approve of them. They wanted to keep their marriage a secret for some time, but the media houses made it public that they had eloped. After their marriage, Selena and Chris stayed in an apartment in Corpus Christi until her father accepted their marriage.
Selena y Los Dinos
In 1981, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. (her father) formed a band called ‘Selena y Los Dinos’ with his friends. Selena became the lead vocalist, her elder brother, A.B., became the bass guitarist, and her sister, Suzette, joined in as a drummer in the band. Her father started managing and promoting the band. The band was first showcased at street corners, weddings, quinceañeras, and fairs until her father started a family restaurant called ‘Papágayos,’ where Selena and the band began performing. After the restaurant was closed, her family took the band to Corpus Christi, where they started to perform on the streets and at events again. The band performed Tejano music compositions, a Spanish-language genre with German influence, which was male-dominant.
After Selena became widely popular, the Texas-based label Freddie Records signed with Selena and the band, which helped the band record its first album ‘Mis Primeras Grabaciones’ (1984).
After the release of their first album, Freddie Records told them that they were not yet ready to have the professional release of their albums. They were discovered while performing in 1987 by GP Production through which they released their second album ‘Alpha,’ which also became the band’s first album to be released without legal actions or threats. The band then released the albums: Munequito De Trapo (1986), And The Winner Is… (1987), and Preciosa (1988). The band released its last album ‘Dulce Amor’ in 1988 after Selena signed in as a solo artist for EMI Latin Records in 1989; Selena was noticed at Latin Music Awards by Jose Behar of the EMI Latin Records.
The then head of Sony Music Latin also wanted to sign Selena as a solo artist, but her father chose EMI Label because of the potential for a crossover album. After she signed as a solo artist, she started to make music in her own name and the band continued to perform with her in her concerts. After she died in 1995, Los Dinos was disbanded.
As a Solo Artist
On October 17, 1989, Selena made her debut as a solo artist with her self-titled Tejano album. The album charted at number seven on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart and became her first recording to debut on a national music chart.
Her brother, A.B., became a part of her music career as he was her principal record producer and songwriter. She went on to record Tejano albums like Ven Conmigo (1990), Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), and Amor Prohibido (1994). Her third studio album ‘Entre a Mi Mundo,’ released in May 1992, charted number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart for eight consecutive months and was certified 10x platinum by the RIAA for sales of 600,000 album-equivalent units. Entre a Mi Munda also marked her ‘breakthrough album’ and the first Tejano album by a female artist to sell over 300,000 copies.
Before her death, she was recording for her first English album ‘Dreaming of You,’ which was going to release in September or October 1995. However, after her death, the album was released early on July 18, 1995. Many of her albums (combined and live) were released posthumously.
As a Fashion Designer & Actress
In 1993, she made her acting debut opposite Erik Estrada in a Mexican telenovela titled ‘Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.’
She had also been featured in telenovelas like Latin Nights (1994) and Don Juan DeMarco (1995). In 1994, she launched her clothing line with the fashion designer Martin Gomez and opened two boutiques called Selena Etc., in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
Both the boutiques were provided with in-house beauty salons. Her boutiques were managed by Yolanda Saldívar (then a nurse and murderer of Selena). Before her death, she was also in discussion about opening more stores in Monterrey, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. After her death, her stores went to the hands of her husband, however, by 2009, both the stores were closed down.
Awards & Honours
BMI Music Awards
- BMI Pop Music Award for ‘Amor Prohibido’ in 1995
- Most Performed Song of the Year for ‘Bidi Bidi Bom Bom’ in 1995
- Singles With Over a Million Airplay Impressions for ‘Dreaming of You’ in 1995
- Song of the Year for ‘No Mes Queda Mas’ in 1995 and ‘Si Una Vez’ in 1996
Lo Nuestro Awards
- Regional Mexican Female Artist in 1993, 1994, and 1995
- Regional Mexican Album of the Year for ‘Entre a Mi Mundo’ in 1993 and ‘Amor Prohibido’ in 1995
- Regional Mexican Song of the Year for ‘Como La Flor’ in 1994 and ‘Amor Prohibido’ in 1995
- Female Pop Artist of the Year in 1995
- Special Tribute Artist of the Year in 1996
Billboard Latin Music Awards
- Hot Latin Tracks, Artist of the Year in 1994 and 1996
- Regional Mexican Album of the Year, Female for ‘Amor Prohibido’ in 1994
- Regional Mexican Song of the Year for ‘Amor Prohibido’ in 1994
- Music Video of the Year for ‘No mes Queda Mas’ in 1994
- Spirit of Hope Award in 1995
- Regional Mexican Hot Latin Track of The Year for ‘Tú Sólo Tú’ in 1996
- Regional Mexican Hot Latin Video of The Year for ‘Tú Sólo Tú’ in 1996
- Pop Album of the Year, Female for ‘Dreaming of You’ in 1996
- Latin Greatest-Hit Album of the Year for ‘All My Hits — Todos Mis Exitos Vol. 2’ in 2001
- Female Vocalist of the Year in 2011
- Digital Download Artist of the Year in 2011
- Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Female in 2016 and 2017
Tejano Music Awards
- Female Vocalist of the Year in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997
- Female Entertainer of the Year in 1998, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997
- Album of the Year – Orchestra for ‘Entre a Mi Mundo’ in 1993, ‘Selena Live!’ in 1994, and ‘Amor Prohibido’ in 1995
- Single of the Year in for ‘Amor Prohibido’ in 1995
- Song of the Year for ‘Bidi Bidi Bom Bom’ in 1995, ‘Tú Sólo Tú’ in 1996, and ‘Siempre Hace Frio’ in 1997
- Showband of the Year (Selene y Los Dinos) in 1996
- Album of the Year – Overall for ‘Dreaming of You’ in 1996
- Tejano Crossover Song of the Year for ‘I Could Fall in Love’ in 1996 and ‘No Quiero Saber’ in 1997
- Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001
- Best Female Vocalist of the 1980s in 2010
- Best Female Vocalist of the 1990s in 2010
- Best 1990s Song for ‘Bidi Bidi Bom Bom’ in 2010
- Inducted to Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017
- Made Guinness World Record for being ‘Most Dominating Artist’ in 1999
- The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Award for Among Most Performed Song for ‘I Could Fall in Love’ in 1995
- Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Album for ‘Selena Live!’ in 1994
Murder of Selena
When she used to perform as a member of ‘Selena y Los Dinos,’ she met Yolanda Saldívar, then a registered nurse who declared herself as Selena’s biggest fan. Yolanda met her father, Abraham, and discussed opening a fan club of Selena. Selena’s father like the idea as he thought that it will bring huge popularity to Selena. After the club was made, Yolanda became close to Selena and her family, and soon was made the acting president of the club in 1991. In 1994, Yolanda was made the manager of Selena’s boutiques by her family. Eight months later, Yolanda was signed as Selena’s registered agent in San Antonio, Texas and Yolanda soon moved from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to live closer to Selena.
In December 1994, as the number of staff decreased in her boutiques, her stores suffered huge losses. According to employees at stores, Yolanda often disposed of the employees who she disliked. Even after the complaints reached the ears of Selena, she did pay heed to them as she had a deep faith in Yolanda that Yolanda would only make decisions in favor of her fashion venture. Disappointed employees then reached out to Selena’s father, Abraham, who took the issue seriously and told Selena to be careful of Yolanda. By January 1995, Selena’s fashion designer Martin Gomez, her cousin Debra Ramirez, and clients conveyed their concerns over Yolanda’s management skills. In January 1995, her father set out a private investigation on Yolanda after he began receiving calls from fans about not having received anything in return for the payment of membership in Selena’s fan club. The private investigation revealed that Yolanda had embezzled more than $30,000 via forged checks from the fan club and boutiques. On the night of March 9, 1995, a meeting was held in which Selena, her father, and her sister confronted Yolanda and presented Yolanda with her inconsistencies about the disappeared funds. Her father went on to ban Yolanda from contact with Selena and threaten to involve the police if she could not prove that she was innocent. Selena tried to reach out to Yolanda as she didn’t want to lose her friend, and also because she (Yolanda) had the bank records, statements, and financial records necessary for tax preparation. Yolanda, in days before her death, delayed in handing over the bank statements and financial records to Selena in the pretense of physical and sexual abuse that she claimed happened in Mexico. On March 31, 1995, Selena went to meet Yolanda and took her to a medical clinic to have her (Yolanda) examined for an assault. During that visit, Yolanda had a brief physical examination without a gynecological exam (which is specifically done in cases of sexual assault) as it was suggested by nurse Carla Anthony that Yolanda needed to have the rape exam in San Antonio because she was a resident of San Antonio, they were at a clinic in Corpus Cristi, and the assault happened in Mexico. Later that day, Selena went to meet Yolanda in her motel room at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi; Selena asked Yolanda for the financial papers. At 11:48 a.m. (CST), Yolanda took out a gun from her purse and shot Selena when she tried to run away from her. Selena was shot once on the right lower shoulder; the gunshot severed an artery and caused Selena a severe loss of blood.
Selena left a 392 -foot (119 m) long trail of blood as she ran towards the lobby, critically wounded, with Yolanda still chasing her and calling her a ‘bitch.’ A clerk at the motel noticed Selena and called for emergency service as she collapsed on the floor. Before losing consciousness, Selena named Yolanda as her attacker and gave the clerk the number of the room where she was shot. At the same time, Yolanda tried to flee the scene in her pickup truck but was spotted by a responding police cruiser. After a nearly nine-and-a-half-hour of a standoff with the police and the FBI, Yolanda surrendered. By the time Yolanda surrendered, many of Selena’s fans had gathered at the scene and wept.
Selena was declared brain dead at her arrival at the Corpus Christi Hospital. The attending emergency room physician decided to carry out an attempt to revive Selena, as Cardiologist Louis Elkins continued with the treatment and performed surgery on her. After the surgery was over, Doctors were able to establish an ‘erratic heartbeat’ but it was only long enough to transfer her to the trauma room. At 1:05 p.m. (CST), she was declared dead from blood loss and cardiac arrest. An autopsy was performed on the same day because of the overwhelming media and public interest. The autopsy revealed that the bullet had entered Selena’s upper right back, near her shoulder blade, passing through her chest cavity, severing the right subclavian artery, and exited her right upper chest.
In October 1995, Yolanda was proven guilty of the first-degree murder of Selena by a Houston jury, who sentenced Yolanda to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 30 years; the maximum sentence given by a court at that time.
On April 1, 1995, a vigil that drew 3,000 fans, was held at Bayfront Plaza in Corpus Christi. During the event, the public viewing of the casket (that took place at the Bayfront Auditorium the following day) was announced. The next day, for almost a mile (1.6 Km), fans had lined up to see Selena’s casket. There were even rumors about the casket being empty and before the rumors went out of line, the Quintanilla family was prompted to have an open-casket viewing. About 30,000 to 40,000 fans passed by Selena’s casket and more than 78,000 people signed a book of condolence. The video and flash photography was banned at the request of Selena’s family. On April 3, 1995, her burial was held at Seaside Memorial Park in Corpus Christi, which was attended by about six hundred guests consisting of mostly family members. Her burial was broadcasted live by the Corpus Christi and San Antonio radio station, without the consent of her family.
- Food: Pizza, Tacos
- Restaurant(s): Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Whataburger, Jack In The Box
- Singer(s): Donna Summer, Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston
- Song: Black Cat by Janet Jackson
- Band(s): A Taste of Honey, Air Supply
- Film(s): Moonlighting (1985), The Little Mermaid (1989)
- Cartoon: Tom & Jerry
- Flower: White Roses
- Color(s): Purple, Black
- Perfume: Boucheron
- Lipstick: Chanel Brick
- Red Porche
- 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse
She lived in a house near her parents’ home at 705 Bloomington Street in Corpus Christi.
Before her death, she was in the process of constructing a new house, containing 10 bedrooms to be located in King Estates, south of Corpus Christi.
Net Worth & Assets
According to a newspaper, at the time of her death, her net worth was only $164,000. Two months after her death, her husband gave all the rights to her entertainment properties to her father. Texas Monthly According to a news portal, her assets worthed $5 Million at the time of her death. Caller
- Selena liked collecting shoes, tobogganing, parasailing, and motorcycle riding in her spare time. She also spent her time collecting Fabergé eggs. She had a collection of more than 500 eggs, ranging from gold to diamond in every size, and were kept inside big glass cabinets in her living rooms.
- Her family members loved ones, and fans called her by various names. She was nicknamed Preciosa, Sel, The Queen of Tejano, Buffy, La Reina de Tex-Mex, Queen of Latin Music, Tejano Madonna, and Queen of Cumbia. IMDb
- When Marcella, her mother, was pregnant with Selena, her parents named her ‘Marc Anthony’ as they were in a strong belief that they will have a son. Upon her birth, she got the name ‘Preciosa’ (Spanish for precious). Eventually, she was named ‘Selena’ when her mother’s roommate in the hospital suggested the name.
- According to Selena, she was inspired to perform after she saw Michael Jackson perform at a 1984 Astrodome concert. She also regarded Donna Summer, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson as her primary influences on her dance moves, her music, and fashion.
- Her single ‘Sukiyaki’ from her debut album (as a solo artist) was an original recorded by Kyu Sakamoto, a Japanese singer, in Japanese in the 1960s. Selena’s Sukiyaki was the Spanish translation of the English version of the song by Janie Marie Johnson into Spanish.
- In 1989, after the release of ‘Selena,’ she became a sex-icon as her popularity increased. However, according to Selena, she never wanted to record explicit songs because of her upbringing, and also because of her fanbase, which consisted largely of young children.
- Selena’s father, Abraham, wanted Selena to keep her public image as clean and family-oriented, and because of that, he even turned down the sponsorship offered by beer companies in 1989.
- In 1989, Selena was appointed as the spokespersons of Coca-Cola in Texas. Chris Perez and her brother, A.B. composed the jingles of the first two commercials that she did for Coca-Cola.
- In 1990, the song ‘Baila Esta Cumbia’ was released with her second album ‘Ven Conmigo’ (1990), which turned out to be Selena’s one of her most successful singles. Even a compilation album consisting of the single’s name was released in Mexico, which was certified platinum by the Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (AMPROFON), denoting sales of 150,000 units.
- In 1991, Salvadoran singer Álvaro Torres and Selena collaborated on the song ‘Buenos Amigos,’ which was released with Torres’ tenth studio album ‘Nada Se Compara Contigo’ (1991); The song charted number one on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart.
- In interviews, her father has expressed that he was against Selena and Chris’ relationship because he thought that Chris could be a ‘Machista’ (Spanish for a male chauvinist), who would force Selena to quit her career and music goals.
- On September 17, 1993, her performance that was attended by 70,000 people, earned her the title of the biggest Tejano act in Mexico.
- Several days after her Murder, Howard Stern, an American radio and TV personality, threw puns at her burial and funeral, her mourners, and also discredited her music. Howard had said
This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul … Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth.”
He even went to the extent of playing Selena’s song with the sound of gunshots in the background, which outraged the Hispanic community in Texas. This led to a disorderly conduct arrest warrant to be issued in his name, which made him go on-air. He had stated in Spanish,
My comments were not made to cause “more anguish to her family, friends and those who loved her”.
Howard did not go through formal charges but faced public outrage when the League of United Latin American Citizens boycotted his show and Texas retailers removed products related to him. Sears (Department Store) and McDonald’s also had to send a letter stating that they disapproved of Howard’s comments because some fans thought that the companies sponsored his show.
- On April 12, 1995, the then governor of Texas George W. Bush, declared Selena’s birthday, April 16, as ‘Selena Day in the state.’ According to George,
Selena represented “the essence of south Texas culture.”
- Selena was a Soprano. Although she did not write most of her songs, her music had R&B, Latin pop, technopop, country and western, and disco influences into her Tejano music repertoire.
- Since childhood, Selena was an active philanthropist and helped organizations such as Toys for Tots. She often visited local schools and talked to students about the importance of education, having positive attitudes, setting life-goals, and refraining from alcohol and drugs. She also held fundraising concerts to help victims of Hurricane Andrew in Florida and for organizations such as D.A.R.E. Selena also engaged in helping her community and once performed in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the forming of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
- In August 1994, she arranged a charity baseball game to raise money for unspecified charities and also spoke for women in abusive relationships in homeless shelters.
- In 1995, the name ‘Selena’ was listed as one of the 100 most popular names for newborn girls by the United States Social Security Administration. Even the singer-songwriter Selena Gomez was named after Selena.
- In 1997, her biopic ‘Selena’ saw its release. The film was produced by her family and Warner Bros. Actress Salma Hayek was chosen to portray Selena in the film initially, but she turned it down as she felt it was “too early” to base a film on Selena. For Selena’s role in the film, over 21,000 people auditioned, which became the second-largest audition since the search for Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939) at that time. Later, Jennifer Lopez, a Puerto Rican-American actress-singer, took the role of Selena in the film. Jennifer’s role in the film is often considered as her breakthrough role by the critics.
- In 1997, her life-sized bronze statue monument ‘Mirador de La Flor’ (English: Lookout of the Flower), also known as Selena’s seawall, was unveiled in Corpus Christi, Texas. The statue was sculpted by H. W. “Buddy” Tatum.
- In March 2000, a Broadway-bound musical titled ‘Selena Forever’ premiered in San Antonio, which was produced by Tom Quinn, Jerry Frankel, Peter Fitzgerald, and Michael Vega, and written by Edward Gallardo. Her role was portrayed by Veronica Vasquez.
- In 2002, the gun that was used to kill Selena was destroyed and the pieces were thrown into Corpus Christi Bay, under a judge’s order. Many fans and historians disapproved of the decision as they considered the event to be historical and that’s why the gun should have been in a museum.
- In January 2015, it was announced that a two-day annual event called ‘Fiesta de la Flor’ would be held in the memory of Selena in Corpus Christi by the Corpus Christi Visitors Bureau.
- On August 30, 2016, Selena’s wax statue was displayed for the first time at Madame Tussauds Hollywood.
- MAC Cosmetics released a limited edition of the Selena makeup line in October 2016, which became the best-selling celebrity line in cosmetic history.
- On October 17, 2017, Google honored Selena with a musical doodle of her life.
- On December 11, 2018, her biographical television series titled ‘Selena: The Series’ was announced and was set to be released on Netflix in 2020. Her character in the film was portrayed by actress Christian Serratos. The two-part series is being done with the participation of the Quintanilla family.
- Forever 21 launched a clothing line celebrating her legacy named “Selena: The White Rose Collection” in 2019.
- She loved animals and had many pets while growing up. In her childhood, she had a chicken named April. In later years, Selena had 5 pet dogs: a husky, a black Pomeranian named Pebbles, two mastiffs named Winny and Taylor, and two miniature pinchers named Julia and Andre. She also had a pet snake with Chris.