Selena Quintanilla was an American singer, songwriter, spokesperson, model, fashion designer, and actress, who was known as the ‘Queen of Tejano Music.’ She is considered to be one of the most significant 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. Her zodiac sign is Aries.
She did her elementary schooling from Dallas’ Oran M Roberts Elementary School. When she was a child, she used to sing with her siblings at her father’s Tex-Mex restaurant ‘PapaGayos.’ The following year saw the closing of the PapaGayos due to the recession caused by the 1980s oil glut, and her family had to declare bankruptcy; her family left their home and settled in Corpus Christi, Texas, where she studied at West Oso Junior High School. Her father formed a band in which she was a lead vocalist. They began performing in various venues and as her popularity (as a singer grew), it began interfering with her education. When her teachers, especially Marilyn Greer, disapproved of her musical career as there was a lot of pressure on her (being a child). Marylyn even threatened her father that she would report her father to the Texas Board of Education. When she was in class 8, her father took her out of school. At the age of seventeen, she completed her schooling from the American School of Correspondence in Chicago. She was accepted at Louisiana State University and enrolled at Pacific Western University from where she did her majors in Business Administration in correspondence. TSHA – Selena Profile
Height IMDb: 5′ 5″
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Brown
Family & Ethnicity
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., is a former musician, and her mother’s name is Marcella Ofelia Quintanilla (née Samora).
She has an elder brother named Abraham III, also known as A.B. (song producer and guitarist), and an elder sister named Suzette Quintanilla.
Relationships & Husband
In 1989, Chris Pérez, a musician and songwriter, joined her band ‘Selena y Los Dinos’ and started having romantic feelings for Selena during a trip with the band, even when he had a girlfriend in San Antonio. Chris wanted to distance himself from her but couldn’t do that and decided to pursue her. At a Pizza Hut restaurant, they both confessed their feelings for each other and came in a relationship sooner. However, they hid their relationship, fearing that her father would try to break it up. Their relationship was exposed by her sister and her father declared that they were no longer dating. Her mother was in the favour of their relationship. They dated each other in secret and on April 2, 1992, Selena and Chris decided to elope in a belief that their relationship will never be approved by her father, and once married, he (her father) would have to accept them. Her marriage took place at Nueces County Courthouse in 1992. Within a few hours of their marriage, the news about their elopement circulated. Selena and Chris lived in an apartment in Corpus Christi until her father accepted them both.
Selena y Los Dinos
In 1981, her father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. formed a band named ‘Selena y Los Dinos’ with her as a vocalist, her elder brother, A.B., as a bass guitarist, and her sister, Suzette, as a drummer. Her father became the manager of the band and began promoting it. They first showcased their band at street corners, weddings, quinceañeras, and fairs, until her father opened a family restaurant called ‘Papágayos,’ where the band used to perform.
When the restaurant was shut down, her family moved to Corpus Christi, where they began performing on streets and at events. The band specialized in Tejano music compositions, a Spanish-language genre with German influence, which was male dominant.
During that time, Selena’s popularity soared and she was signed with Freddie Records, a Texas-based label. In 1984, the band recorded its first album ‘Selena y Los Dinos – Mis Primeras Grabaciones.’
After its release, Freddie Records told them that they were not yet ready to have the professional release of their albums. While performing, they were discovered by GP Production in 1987 and released their second album ‘Alpha,’ also their 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.
In 1989, Jose Behar of EMI Latin Records and the then head of Sony Music Latin wanted to sign Selena as a solo artist. Her father chose EMI Label because of the potential for a crossover album. After signing as a solo artist, she began music with her own name, but the band ‘Los Dinos’ remained with her in concerts. After her death in 1995, the Los Dinos was disbanded.
As a Solo Artist
On October 17, 1989, Selena released her self-titled debut album. The song ‘My Love’ was written by Selena and was included in the album. Her brother, A.B., also joined Selena in her musical career and became her principal record producer and songwriter. Her album ‘Selena’ peaked at number seven on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart and became her first recording to debut on a national music chart.
She has recorded various albums like Ven Conmigo (1990), Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), and Amor Prohibido (1994). Her third studio album ‘Entre a Mi Mundo’ was released in May 1992, which peaked at 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. The album became 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 album ‘Dreaming of You,’ which was going to be her first album in English and was set to release in September or October 1995. However, soon after her death, the album was released on July 18, 1995.
Many of her albums (combined and live) were released posthumously.
In 1993, she appeared opposite Erik Estrada in a Mexican telenovela titled ‘Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.’
She has appeared in telenovelas like Latin Nights (1994) and Don Juan DeMarco (1995).
In 1994, she began designing a clothing line and opened two boutiques called Selena Etc., in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. She began manufacturing clothes with the fashion designer Martin Gomez. Both the boutiques were equipped with in-house beauty salons.
She was also in negotiations to open more stores in Monterrey, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The boutiques were managed by Yolanda Saldívar (a nurse and murderer of Selena). Another boutique was to be opened in Monterrey, Mexico, but due to her death in 1995, the boutique was never opened. The stores were handled by her husband after her death, but by 2009, both the stores were shut down.
Awards & Honours
- 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
- Made Guinness World Record for being ‘Most Dominating Artist’ in 1999
- Inducted to Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017
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
- Song of the Year for ‘No Mes Queda Mas’ in 1995 and ‘Si Una Vez’ in 1996
- Singles With Over a Million Airplay Impressions for ‘Dreaming of You’ in 1995
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
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
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
When she was the part of ‘Selena y Los Dinos,’ she met Yolanda Saldívar, then a registered nurse and her fan. Because Yolanda used to attend her concerts, she proposed the idea of having a fan club (for Selena) in San Antonio to her father. Soon, Yolanda became a close friend to Selena and her family. After the fan club was started, Yolanda was made the acting president of the club in 1991. In 1994, her family appointed Yolanda as Selena’s boutiques’ manager. Eight months later, Yolanda was signed as her registered agent in San Antonio, Texas, after which she moved from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to live closer to Selena.
In December 1994, the boutiques encountered huge loss after the number of staff decreased in both stores. According to staff members, Yolanda often dismissed employees that she disliked. Even after employees complained about Yolanda, Selena didn’t take it seriously as she thought that Yolanda would not do something that would affect her fashion venture. Employees then contacted Selena’s father regarding the issue, who believed them and told Selena to be careful of Yolanda. However, Selena still did not listen to him. By January 1995, Selena’s fashion designer Martin Gomez, her cousin Debra Ramirez, and clients expressed their concerns over Yolanda’s management skills. In January 1995, her father began receiving calls from fans, complaining about the payment of membership in Selena fan club but receiving nothing in return for it. Her father, Abraham, began a private investigation against Yolanda and found that she (Yolanda) had embezzled more than $30,000 via forged checks from fan club and boutiques. Her father then contacted Selena and her sister on the night of March 9, 1995, and confronted Yolanda, presenting Yolanda of her inconsistencies about the disappeared funds. Her father even threatened to involve the police if she could not prove that she was innocent, and banned Yolanda from contacting Selena. However, Selena wanted to be friends with Yolanda and trusted her. She also wanted to keep Yolanda close because, she (Yolanda) had the bank records, statements, and financial records necessary for tax preparation. In the days before Selena’s death, she delayed in handing over the bank statements and financial records to Selena by claiming to have been physically and sexually assaulted in Mexico. On March 31, 1995, Selena took Yolanda to a medical clinic to have her (Yolanda) examined for an assault. During that visit, Yolanda received a brief physical examination, which did not include a gynaecological exam (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 not a resident of San Antonio, they were at a clinic in Corpus Cristi, and the assault happened in Mexico. Later, Selena met Yolanda her motel room at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi, where she demanded the financial papers from Yolanda. At 11:48 a.m. (CST), Yolanda took out a gun from her purse and pointed it at Selena, and when Selena attempted to run away, she shot her once on the right lower shoulder, which severed an artery and caused Selena a severe loss of blood. Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby, leaving a 392-foot (119 m) long trail of blood, with Yolanda still chasing her and calling her a ‘bitch.’ She was noticed by the clerk (at the motel) and Selena named Yolanda as her assailant and gave her the number of the room where she was shot. She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called the emergency service.
Meanwhile, Yolanda tried to leave 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. As Police took Yolanda away, there were many fans of Selena who had gathered at the scene and wept.
At her arrival to the Corpus Christi Hospital, Selena was declared brain dead. The attending emergency room physician decided to attempt to revive her and Cardiologist Louis Elkins continued with the treatment and performed surgery on her. Doctors were able to establish an ‘erratic heartbeat’ long enough to transfer her to the trauma room. At 1:05 p.m. (CST), she was pronounced dead from blood loss and cardiac arrest. Due to overwhelming media interest, an autopsy was performed on the same day, which revealed that the bullet had entered Selena’s upper right back, near her shoulder blade, passed through her chest cavity, severed the right subclavian artery, and exited her right upper chest.
In October 1995, a Houston jury convicted Yolanda Saldívar of first-degree murder of Selena and sentenced her to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. 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.
On April 1, 1995, a vigil was held at Bayfront Plaza in Corpus Christi, which drew 3,000 fans. During the event, it was announced that the following day, the public viewing of the casket will be held at the Bayfront Auditorium. Fans lined up for almost a mile (1.6 Km). An hour before the doors opened, rumours that the casket was empty began circulating, which prompted the Quintanilla family to have an open-casket viewing. About 30,000 to 40,000 fans passed by Selena’s casket and more than 78,000 signed a book of condolence. The video and flash photography was banned at the request of Selena’s family. On April 3, 1995, about six hundred guests consisting of mostly family members attended her burial at Seaside Memorial Park in Corpus Christi, Texas; her burial was broadcasted live by Corpus Christi and San Antonio radio station without the consent of her family.
According to a San Antonio Express, a newspaper, her net worth was only $164,000 at the time of her death. Two months after her death, all the rights to her entertainment properties were given to her father by her husband, Chris. Texas Monthly
- Red Porche
- 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse
She lived in an adjacent house near her parents’ home at Bloomington Street in Corpus Christi.
Before her death, she was also in the process of building a new home, containing 10 bedrooms to be located in “King Estates” south of Corpus Christi.
- Restaurant: Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Whataburger, Jack In The Box
- Singer: Donna Summer, Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston
- Band: A Taste of Honey, Rock Group Air Supply
- Film: Moonlighting (1985)
- Perfume: Boucheron
- Flower: White Roses
- Lipstick: Chanel Brick
- Song: Black Cat by Janet Jackson
- Cartoon: Tom & Jerry
- Film: The Little Mermaid (1989)
- Selena liked collecting shoes, tobogganing, parasailing, and motorcycle riding.
- She also had a hobby of collecting Fabergé eggs. She had big glass cabinets in her living rooms in which she kept more than 500 designer eggs, which were made of gold to diamond and every size.
- She had many names including Preciosa, Sel, The Queen of Tejano, Buffy, La Reina de Tex-Mex, Queen of Latin Music, Tejano Madonna, and Queen of Cumbia. IMDb
- When her mother, Marcella, was pregnant with her, her parents were convinced that they were having a boy and so, named the baby Marc Anthony. When she was born, she was named ‘Preciosa.’ Her name ‘Selena’ was chosen by her mother’s roommate in the hospital.
- She had credited Michael Jackson for inspiring her to perform after she saw him perform at a 1984 Astrodome concert. She also considered 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’ was originally recorded by Kyu Sakamoto in Japanese in the 1960s. She used the translation of the English version of the song by Janie Marie Johnson into Spanish.
- Selena’s father wanted Selena to maintain her public image as clean and public-oriented. In 1989, when she was offered sponsorship from beer companies, her father turned them down.
- After the release of her first album in 1989, her popularity increased and she became a sex-icon. However, she said that she never wanted to record explicit songs because of her upbringing and her fan base that consisted largely of young children, who considered her a role-model.
- In 1989, Selena became one of the spokespersons of Coca-Cola in Texas. The jingles of the first two commercials that she did for Coca-Cola was composed by A.B. and Chris Pérez.
- The song ‘Baila Esta Cumbia’ from her second album ‘Ven Conmigo’ (1990), became one of her most successful singles. The compilation album consisting 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 composed a duet that he wanted to sing with Selena. The song was ‘Buenos Amigos,’ which was released in Torres’ tenth studio album ‘Nada Se Compara Contigo’ (1991); Buenos Amigos peaked at number one on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart.
- In interviews, her father expressed that he disapproved of Chris Pérez because he thought that he could be a ‘Machista’ (Spanish for a male chauvinist), who would force Selena away from her career and music goals.
- On September 17, 1993, her performance was attended by 70,000 people, which gave her the title of the biggest Tejano act in Mexico.
- Several days after her Murder, Howard Stern, an American radio and TV personality, made fun of her burial and funeral, her mourners, and also criticized 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.”
Howard’s statements outraged the Hispanic community in Texas. He also went on to play Selena’s song with the sound of gunshots in the background on his show. After which, a disorderly conduct arrest warrant was 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 was not charged formally but the League of United Latin American Citizens boycotted his show, Texas retailers removed products related to him, and Sears (Department Store) and McDonald’s sent a letter stating that they disapproved of Howard’s comment, because some fans believed the companies sponsored his show.
- On April 12, 1995, George W. Bush, the then governor of Texas, declared her birthday, April 16, as ‘Selena Day in the state.’ According to George,
Selena represented “the essence of south Texas culture.”
- Selena was a Soprano and though she did not write most of her songs, she incorporated R&B, Latin pop, technopop, country and western, and disco into her Tejano music repertoire.
- She has also been involved in Philanthropy since childhood. During her childhood, Selena helped organizations such as Toys for Tots. She often visited local schools to talk 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.
- She also spent her time helping her community. She once performed in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the forming of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
- In August 1994, she hosted a charity baseball game to raise money for unspecified charities. She was a spokesperson for women in abusive relationships in homeless shelters.
- In 1995, the United States Social Security Administration ranked the name ‘Selena’ as one of the 100 most popular names for newborn girls. Even Selena Gomez was named after her.
- In 1997, her biopic ‘Selena’ was produced by her family and Warner Bros. Initially, actress Salma Hayek was chosen to portray Selena, however, Salma turned down the role as she felt it was “too early” to base a film on Selena. For her 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). Later, Puerto Rican-American actress-singer Jennifer Lopez was chosen as the lead in the film and the role is often cited by critics as Lopez’s breakthrough role.
- In 1997, Mirador de La Flor (English: Lookout of the Flower), also known as Selena’s seawall, which is Selena’s own life-size bronze statue monument in Corpus Christi, Texas, sculpted by H. W. “Buddy” Tatum, was unveiled.
- 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 January 2015, a two-day annual event called ‘Fiesta de la Flor’ was announced to be held in Corpus Christi for Selena by the Corpus Christi Visitors Bureau.
- On August 30, 2016, her wax statue was unveiled at Madame Tussauds Hollywood.
- In October 2016, MAC Cosmetics released a limited edition of Selena makeup line, which became the best-selling celebrity line in cosmetic history.
- Google honoured Selena on October 17, 2017, with a musical doodle of her life.
- On December 11, 2018, it was announced that a biographical television series based on her life titled ‘Selena: The Series’ was set to be released on Netflix in 2020. Selena’s character was played by the Actress Christian Serratos. The two-part series is being done with the participation of the Quintanilla family.
- In 2019, Forever 21 released a clothing line celebrating her legacy named “Selena: The White Rose Collection.”
- While growing up, she had a chicken named April. She 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 shared a pet snake with Chris.