Selena is a very well known name in the Latin-American community. She started her music career while she was still a child with her dad’s group Los Dinos. Selena married her lead guitarist and ended up being killed by her “biggest fan.” After her death Selena became even more popular. Selena Quintan illa Perez was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas.
Selena grew up understanding Spanish, but English was her first language. At the age of five Selena saw her brother learning to play the guitar and became jealous of the attention he was getting. She picked up a songbook and began to sing. Her family quickly turned their attention to her strong and beautiful voice. In the first grade Selena excelled at a game called Jump the Brook, in which two ropes are placed side by side and each kid takes a turn jumping across. 1 In middle school Selena was in honors classes and made A’s and B’s.
Selena used her allowance to put clothes on layaway. As a teenager, Selena hung all of her awards on the wall next to the staircase in her family’s house. As an adult, Selena was very involved with kids. She was a spokeswoman for the D.
A. R. E. Program. Selena began performing at an early age. Selena’s father, Abraham, became her manager and Los Dinos became her backing band.
In 1983 she made her recording debut after appearing on the popular radio show of L. A. deejay Johnnie Canales. Her first records were recorded in Spanish and she sang the words phonetically. 2 After her music began to catch on, she began learning Spanish formally and by the time of her death, she was fluent in the language.
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Selena started her career in 1984 by recording two records for a small independent label. One of the albums was released and later re-released in 1995. The other album was sold to her father and never released. Selena was the Hot Latin Tracks artist of the year in 1995. Selena has had seven number one singles on the Billboard’s Hot Latin chart. Only three other Latin artists have had more.
The “Dreaming of You” album was the second fastest selling album by a female artist in history next to Janet Jackson. Although Selena improvised and created her own dance moves on stage, she used to watch “Soul Train” to get ideas for her dance steps. 3 Once a man brought his sister who was dying of cancer and also a huge Selena fan to one of Selena’s concerts. The girl was bald from her treatments, but Selena pulled her up on stage and teasingly draped her long hair over the girl’s head.
Even though Selena became the star of the band Selena y Los Dinos, her band members and her family stood by her side throughout her career. Selena even married Los Dinos’ head guitarist Chris Perez. Because the had never had a real wedding, Selena and Chris planned on using their fifth year wedding anniversary to renew their vows and have a huge ceremony with lots of family and friends. Selena and Chris first admitted that they loved each other at a Pizza Hut in the Rio Grande Valley. 4 Selena loved tortilla chips.
Selena and Chris kept his and her bags of them in their house, so neither could say the other was hogging the chips. 5 Selena and Chris often grabbed a bag of tortilla chips and headed down to the ocean or out to the country together. In Selena’s bathroom she had put two bumper stickers on the mirror. One said “Chris ‘N Selena Forever,” and the other said “I Love You Chris.” 6 Selena is the reason Chris knows Spanish. When she started learning the language, it inspired him too. Selena and Chris planned on having children as soon as Selena’s career settled down.
It was one of Selena’s biggest dreams to be a mother. She had hoped to have five kids one day. Selena did many things to help out her community. Selena loved to go to public middle and high schools to talk to the kids about the importance of staying in school, avoid drugs and alcohol, remaining chaste, and pursuing goals. She filmed several informative films for these issues. Once at the Olive Garden Selena saw a little old lady eating alone and felt so sorry for her that she anonymously paid for the lady’s lunch and had the waiter send her home with a cake.
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7 Selena liked cooking and baking. Selena liked to boil orange peels and spices on her stove to give her house a distinct smell. Her favorite restaurants were Pizza Hut and The Olive Garden. Selena bragged in interviews that she could eat a whole medium pizza all by herself. Her favorite kind of pizza was Pizza Hut’s thin crust double pepperoni. Selena’s favorite fast food was What-a-Burgers.
She used to joke that she would buy stock in it. Selena was a practical joker. She used to love to wear a hat that unfolded and was shaped like an umbrella. On her bus tour she wore the hat and waved at people driving by in other cars. 8 Even though people teased her saying her saying that she could eat much food and never gain a pound, Selena worked out all the time and was very athletic. Everyday Selena took a walk through her neighborhood.
Going parasailing, tobogganing, and shopping at Wal-mart and Pay Less Shoes Source were some of Selena’s favorite activities. Some of Selena’s other favorite activities were sewing and designing clothes. Selena often sewed her stage costumes just hours before going out on stage. In 1993, when her band mates were waiting to go onstage at the Houston Astrodome, Selena was still backstage sewing things onto her costume. A few months earlier, she decorated a pair of boots while on the way to a concert at Disneyland. Designing clothes and making her own jewelry were big hobbies for Selena.
She said several times that if it weren’t for music, she would have been a fashion designer. At one time Selena designed all the costumes she and Los Dinos wore on stage. Selena’s dream of being a designer came true in 1994 when she created Selena Inc. and opened her own salon in Corpus Christi, Texas. Selena’s family teased Selena, saying that the only reason she opened a salon was so that she could get pampered for free.
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Selena was also kept busy by her animals. She had five dogs, which she loved to take for walks. Her dos were constantly getting loose. Neighborhood kids helped her catch the dogs, and she rewarded them by taking them to eat at McDonald’s. Selena wanted to have even more animals by having her own farm. Towards the end of her life she and Chris had purchased ten acres of land just outside Corpus Christi, on which they planned to build a farm, raise horses, and build their own house.
They had many plans for the future, but they did not suspect what would happen in the near future. Even though it seemed that Selena got along with everyone, there was one person who would leave a negative void in her life. In the spring of 1995 Selena’s father had unearthed paperwork proving that Yolanda Saldivar, manager of Selena’s boutique in San Antonio and founder of Selena’s fan club, had been embezzling from the fan club. Selena was working on her first English language album, when she went to a motel room in Corpus Christi, Texas, to fire thirty- four year old Saldivar. Saldivar and Selena argued and as the singer left, she was shot in the back by Saldivar. Selena did not die right away and managed to stagger into the lobby where she named Yolanda Saldivar the killer.
An hour later Selena died in a local hospital. Selena was buried in the sparkly purple outfit she wore to the 1995 Tejano Music Awards just a month before she died. The tragic shooting of Selena spawned a reaction within the Latino community that can be compared to the reactions of Elvis Presley and John Lennon. 9 An enormously popular singer in the Latino communities across America, her music crossed cultural boundaries to touch the lives of the young and old alike. Her records, including the posthumously released English album, “Dreaming of You,” began selling in unprecedented amounts as fans grieved. She was honored at a memorial concert at the Houston Astrodome; a year later, a movie was made about her.
Selena led a glorious life that ended in tragedy. She began performing during her childhood. It paid off, because she became one of the leading musicians in the Latino community. She was very involved in her community and did not let the fame get to her head. Her death only increased her fame.
Bibliography Benibo, Bilayck. “Anglo- and Mexican American Attitudes Toward Selena’s Memorialization.” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences February 1999: page 78. de los Santos, Nancy. “Working with the Fans Behind the Scenes.” Hispanic March 1997: page 34.
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Lanner t, John. “Selena Set Marks EMI Latin’s 10 th Year.” Billboard 20 February 1999: page 9. Richmond, Clint. The Phenomenal Life and Tragic Death of the Tejano Superstar. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc. , 1998.
Romero, Maritza. Selena Perez: Queen of Tejano Music. New York: Power Kids Press, 1997. Terry, Diana A. “Tejano Music Queen.” Hispanic March 2000: page 28. Wheeler, Jill C.
Selena, The Queen of Tejano. Minneapolis, MN: Abdo & Daughters, 1996. Endnotes 1 Maritza Romero, Selena Perez: Queen of Tejano Music (New York: Power Kids Press, 1997) page 9 paragraph 2. 2 Jill C. Wheeler, Selena, The Queen of Tejano (Minneapolis, MN: Abdo & Daughters, 1996) page 9 paragraph 3. 3 Wheeler page 14 paragraph.
4 Clint Richmond, The Phenomenal Life and Tragic Death of the Tejano Superstar. (New York: Coward-McCann, Inc. , 1998) page 13 paragraph 2. 5 Richmond page 15 paragraph 4. 6 Richmond page 15 paragraph 5.
7 Nancy de los Santos, “Working with the Fans Behind the Scenes,” Hispanic March 1997: page 34 paragraph 1. 8 Diana A. Terry, “Tejano Music Queen,” Hispanic March 2000: page 28 paragraph 1. 9 Belay ck Benibo, “Anglo- and Mexican American Attitudes Toward Selena’s Memorialization,” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences February 1999: page 78 paragraph 5..