Selena Biography

Selena (1971-1995), American singer of Tejano music (a mixture of Texan and Mexican music) who was just starting to popularize the style in the United States when she was murdered by the manager of her fan club. After her death, Selena’s recordings continued to sell extensively and she became one of the top-selling Latin musical artists of the 1990s.

Selena Quintanilla was born in Lake Jackson, Texas, to a musical family. Her father, Abraham, had a band called Los Dinos that his children joined as they grew up. Selena began singing with the band when she was nine years old. Although she was raised speaking English, she began singing in Spanish to appeal to the Tejano market, which is heavily Spanish-speaking. Selena made her first recordings in 1984, but the album was not released until 1995 under the title Mis Primeras Grabaciones (My First Recordings).

The family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, and the group—renamed Selena Y Los Dinos—continued to play shows wherever it could. In 1986 the group released its first album, Alpha. After two more albums in 1988, Selena signed with a major recording label, with the band continuing to back her up. The album Ven Conmigo (Come With Me) was released in 1990 and became one of the biggest-selling Tejano recordings ever released. By this time Selena’s music blended the traditional Mexican polka rhythms with salsa and pop stylings. She released two more albums in 1992 and married Chris Perez, the group’s lead guitarist. Selena continued to build a strong Mexican American following that spilled over to the American mainstream, as evidenced by her 1993 Grammy Award for best Mexican American performance for the album Selena Live.

At this point Selena was a superstar in Mexico, the top Tejana (female Tejano singer) in the business. Her album Amor Prohibido (Forbidden Love, 1994) won a Grammy Award and sold well, laying the groundwork for Selena to cross over into the English-language market. In February 1995 she sold out a concert in the Houston Astrodome and began recording her next album. A month later she went to a Corpus Christi motel to fire her fan-club founder, Yolanda Saldivar. Selena and her family believed that Saldivar had been embezzling from the club and several boutiques that Selena owned. At the conclusion of the meeting Saldivar shot Selena in the back, killing her.

After her death Selena’s English-language album Dreaming of You (1995) was released to huge sales. Selena, a motion picture about the singer’s life starring Jennifer Lopez, came out in 1997. Selena Forever, a musical about the Tejano star, was produced in several U.S. cities in 2000.

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