Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by sierra. sierra Wonders, “who is selena quantianna” Thanks for WONDERing with us, sierra!
She had a voice like no other. Her presence on stage was mesmerizing. But her talents extended far beyond music: She designed her own clothes, loved parasailing, and never refused to sign an autograph. That’s right, today’s Wonder of the Day is about the one and only Queen of Tejano Music—Selena!
Selena Quintanilla was born on April 16, 1971. She grew up in Texas. Her father, Abraham Quintanilla, was a musician. He recognized Selena’s singing talent early. As kids, she and her siblings joined the family band.
The band, called Selena y Los Dinos, played at the family’s restaurant. Selena was the lead singer. She was joined by her sister (Suzette) on drums and her brother (A.B.) on guitar. Other family members were also part of the band, and Abraham worked as their manager.
After the family restaurant closed, Selena y Los Dinos entertained at weddings, quinceañeras, and other events. They began to make quite a name for themselves in Tejano music. This style, which developed during the 1930s, consists of dance music shaped by both Mexican and American cultures.
Selena grew up speaking English. However, her father encouraged her to learn Spanish to connect with Latinx audiences and with her Mexican cultural roots. Selena started by singing the words to her songs in Spanish. Soon, though, she became fluent.
In 1987, Selena won “Best Female Vocalist of the Year” and “Performer of the Year” at the Tejano Music Awards. Guitarist Chris Pérez joined Selena’s band in 1989, and the two fell in love. Abraham Quintanilla was against the pair dating at first. However, Selena was determined to stay with Pérez.
Things were certainly looking up for Selena at the start of the next decade. In 1990, her album “Ven Conmigo” became the first Tejano record to reach gold status. She and Chris Pérez eloped in 1992. That same year, Selena started her own clothing line.
Selena’s album “Live!” was released in 1993. She became the first Tejano artist to win a Grammy that year. She brought home the trophy for “Best Mexican-American Album.” In 1994, she released “Amor Prohibido,” which reached gold status. Right away, Selena began work on her next album—“Dreaming of You.” This would be her first album released in English, a project she had long hoped to complete.
Trouble came in 1995 in the form of Yolanda Saldívar. She was the founder of Selena’s fan club and managed one of her boutiques. However, Selena learned that Saldívar was stealing money from both. During a meeting on March 31, Saldívar shot and killed the Tejano star. Selena was only 23 years old.
Later that year, “Dreaming of You” was released posthumously. It became the first predominantly Spanish-language album to top the Billboard Top 200 chart in August 1995. It later became a multi-platinum record.
Selena inspired a generation, and her music is still popular today. In the months after her death, over 600 infants born in Texas were named after Selena. One of them was Selena Gomez, who would later rise to pop stardom. A 1997 film, “Selena,” starred Jennifer Lopez and told the story of Selena Quintanilla’s life. In 2020, Netflix released a series about the singer starring Christian Serratos.
Today, Selena is remembered for her vibrant personality as much as her music. Have you ever listened to the Queen of Tejano Music? If not, look for her songs online—you may find a new favorite!
Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.1 CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.2