Selena Quintanilla Biography

People Magazine 1995

Selena Quintanilla Biography

Name: Selena Quintanilla Pérez.
Birth date: April 16, 1971.
Birthplace: Lake Jackson, TX.
Breakthrough: Signing with EMI and releasing the hit “Buenos Amigos.”

Selena is one of the most recognized Latino singers in the U.S. who lived a short life filled with success by becoming the queen of Tejano music, a type of folk and popular music originated among the Hispanic population of Southern Texas.

Selena’s Childhood

Selena was born in a Hispanic Mexican-American family which included three children. She was the youngest daughter to Marcela and Abraham Quintanilla. Her father a former musician, who ended up working for Dow Chemical as a shipping clerk, gave up on his dream of becoming a musician full time to support his family.

People Magazine 1995

Selena Quintanilla
by People Magazine

Selena Quintanilla grew up in a very close-knit family that was not catholic, as many Hispanic families are, but Jehovah Witness. The family lived in “La Molina” a working class neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Early on, Abraham introduced his kids to musical instruments. His son Abraham III (A.B.) learned the bass guitar and Suzette, his older daughter, the drums.  When Selena was only six, her father realized his daughter had an amazing voice and saw an opportunity to live his dreams through her. He converted their garage into a music studio and in 1980 Selena’s father formed the group “Selena y Los Dinos” in which Selena Quintanilla, only eight years old was the lead singer.  The same year Selena’s father quit his job at Dow to open a restaurant called “Papagayo” where the family performed on the weekends.People Magazine

Abraham Quintanilla pushed his kids hard to improve their musical talent and when they were not practicing in their garage they were playing somewhere.  “Selena y Los Dinos” rehearsed almost every day and played mostly Top 40 hits and some older songs in Spanish. Soon Abraham started to write his own songs in Spanish for the band.

Para Todos Magazine August/September 2008

Selena Quintanilla
Para Todos Magazine

In 1981 the restaurant failed and the family was struggling after being evicted from their home. They had to move with relatives in Corpus Christi. The band continued to perform everywhere they could; soon “Selena y Los Dinos” became the only way for the Quintanilla family to make money.

Selena enrolled in junior high in Corpus Christi but her band obligations made her miss Fridays and Mondays frequently. Soon after, she dropped out but that didn’t stop her from continuing her education and at 17 she earned her GED.

People who knew Selena Quintanilla say she enjoyed every moment she performed and never felt it was too much for her.Selena Quintanilla’s Recording DebutSelena started to gain popularity and she was recognized by the Freddie label.

In 1983, at the age of twelve she recorded her first album which was never sold in stores at the time but released in 1995 with the name “Mis Primeras Grabaciones.”While Selena was gaining recognition, her brother A.B. tired of having to fish for original songs became her songwriter and producer.

By 1988 Selena was very popular in the Texas market and was voted female vocalist of the year at the Tejano Music Awards in San Antonio. She did not stop there as she continued to win this award for seven consecutive years.

 

 

Selena’s Breakthrough

In 1989 Jose Behar the person who just had launched the EMI Latin Label discovered her at the Tejano Music Awards.

Interesting enough he always thought of her as the next Gloria Estefan, seeing in Selena the next crossover star.Her breakthrough came in 1991 with the hit “Buenos Amigos,” a song she did with Alvaro Torres. This ballad became number 1 on the Billboard Latin Charts and reached wider audiences.

The videos for “Buenos Amigos” and a guest appearance on “Donde Quiero Que Estés” by the Barrio Boyzz allowed her to reach international markets with her own songs “La Carcacha” and “Como La Flor.”

Selena took the Mexican market easily, helped by her brother A.B. who created tropical international songs, in many occasions mixing cumbias which originated in Colombia. Apparently that was the key, a rhythm that could be played everywhere from Puerto Rico to California.

With her success south of the border she realized she needed to speak Spanish and she went on a mission to learn. After a couple of years she became fluent and even handled the press herself in Spanish.  The saddest part is that Selena was in the middle of recording her first crossover album with lyrics in English when she was killed.

Selena Quintanilla and Her love Life.

It all started when A.B. invited Christopher Pérez to join the Los Dinos in 1988. He played with the band and left to pursue his music dream, only to comeback a year later.Abraham saw mutual interest between Selena and Christopher and even though he opposed the relationship initially, he fully embraced their relationship afterwards. Christopher and Selena married on April 2, 1992 at a very young age he was 22 and she was 21.

Selena’s Tragic Death

Sadly enough Selena was killed by her number one fan: Yolanda Saldivar. She was the person who approached Abraham persistently for four years to create and manage Selena’s fan club.Yolanda had an obscure past that nobody in Selena’s family knew. She had been accused of stealing more than $9,000 in 1984 and failed to pay her student loans amongst other things. Selena’s father accused Yolanda of embezzling money from the boutiques and the fun club which she managed for Selena.

Yolanda had returned from Monterrey, Mexico where Selena planned to open another boutique. After her return, she was supposed to show statements and documents to prove her innocence. She cited Selena, and on March 31st after both women argued Yolanda shot Selena with a 38-caliber revolver.

The bullet stroked her right shoulder. Selena ran to the lobby while the clerk called 911. Selena Quintanilla was rushed to Memorial Medical Center in Corpus Christi, Texas and was pronounced dead on arrival.Yolanda Saldivar was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Selena Quintanilla Pérez. She is currently serving at the correctional of Gatesville, Texas since 1995.

A Dream Come True

In July of 1995, “I Could Fall in Love” a song from her first English album “Dreaming of You” reached the charts at number one. That was a dream come true for Selena, crossing over into the pop market.Selena Quintanilla Pérez continues to be present in the hearts of many with her songs and her special charisma that make her unforgettable.

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