Sunday, September 24, 2023

24 years after the tragic death of Selena, the singer continues to resonate with younger generations


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Photo courtesy of Chulita Vinyl Club

Story by Samantha Avalos / Contributing Writer 

Selena Quintanilla-Perez, the Mexican-American Tejano queen who climbed the charts with her ’90s hits like “Como la Flor” and “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” was only 23 years old when she was killed by her fan club manager on March 31, 1995. While she is no longer creating music, she is still being honored and admired by the masses, which has made her larger than life.

Selena’s musical career began in the early ’80s at the age of 10 when her father, who once was a music producer, created Selena y los Dinos. Selena fronted the group with her brother, A.B., on bass and sister, Suzette, on drums. Selena wasn’t fluent in Spanish but slowly learned by singing in the language. They’d play a variety of events and Selena’s dad really pushed for them to focus on all things music. After some time of traveling to local Texas gigs, playing wherever people would hear them, they finally gained attention and began touring more in the states. Selena broke barriers by bringing Spanish music into the mainstream American world and was such a breath of fresh air in a time when grunge was in and all things dark and brooding dominated.

Several of her songs reached gold status, and in 1993, she won a Grammy for best Mexican-American album for her “Live” album.

Since her untimely death, Selena’s fame has been sky-rocketing, and there are no signs of it slowing down with fans making sure her music and image continue to be celebrated. Prominent fans include the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Camilla Cabello.

Musgraves recently performed at the Houston Astrodome, the same venue where Selena’s last concert took place. Musgraves paid homage to Selena, covering her hit “Como la Flor” with the blessing of Selena’s sister. Musgraves impressively performed the song in Spanish while dressed in a reminiscent sparkly purple jumpsuit similar to the one Selena had worn during her last concert in 1995. Cabello also paid homage to the Tejano singer and covered “Dreaming of You” at a Houston Rodeo early this month.

The 1997 movie “Selena,” starring Jennifer Lopez, was the rocket that re-launched Selena into the mainstream world. Lopez credits taking part in the movie as the reason why she got into singing and acting.

Several years after the biographical movie premiered, Selena continued to be honored by the masses, which would come full circle for the singer who wanted to one day have a beauty line. MAC Cosmetics created a limited-edition makeup collection in 2016 that quickly jumped off the shelves after its release. This collection included lipsticks, blushes and other beauty products that were inspired the singer’s own beauty products. Her sister, Suzette, had a hand in the making of this collection. She still has Selena’s makeup bag and used that as inspiration for the colors and shades of the collection.

In 2017, Selena was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2019, the honors continued with the fast fashion company Forever 21 recently launching The White Rose Collection with images of the singer and Selena’s name adorning a variety of clothing items.

In Selena’s home state of Texas, House Bill 2492, filed by lawmaker Ana-Maria Ramos in February, was introduced to set April 16 as Selena Quintanilla-Perez Day.

With 2019 being the 24th anniversary of her death, Selena left a lasting impact that has transitioned her into the modern culture. This is in part because she was a talented Mexican-American beauty with her sparkly bustiers, red lipstick and infectious smile. However, she was much more than that. She also brought such enthusiasm to her craft and resonated deeply with her fans.

The Tejano singer became a role model for many girls because she represented those little brown girls that hadn’t seen someone who looked like them singing and dancing on stage before. These were little girls who saw themselves when they saw her. As a Mexican-American growing up in a predominately Caucasian town, Selena was the only person who looked like me with her long dark hair and tan skin. I’m sure I wasn’t the only little girl that felt motivated to dream big. That’s the lasting impact Selena continues to have.

Beyond her death, Selena continues to represent young Hispanic girls who can look at her and see possibility. It’s the possibility to take the road less traveled and dare to be themselves in every sense of the word.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Mamie Lomax, email

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