On April 16, 1971, a beautiful baby girl named Selena was born. She would later become a vivacious gorgeous singer whose popularity was as big as the universe but first she had to grow up. She was the last of 3 children. Her parents are Marcella Quintanilla and Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., their other children are A.B. Quintanilla, III and Suzette Quintanilla.
At age 6 Selena was watching her father teaching her brother how to play the bass guitar which was given to him as a gift. Selena feeling a little jealous so she picked up a songbook and started singing. Her dad immediately saw her talent and potential saying her pitch and timing was perfect. This for a 6 year old is amazing. So he formed the new generation of Los Dinos. He had been a singer in the '50s and '60s with the Dinos and borrowed the name. Her parents bought a house and her dad was working for Dow Chemical. He decided to open his own restaurant Selena y Los Dinos got to perfect their technique in the restaurant, Papagallos.
Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed and Los Dinos went from a family hobby to the families new business. After losing the restaurant her parents tried to get normal jobs but soon found that Selena y Los Dinos was their best bet on keeping food on the table. Suzette was at first not an official member, one of their cousins was the drummer but when he had to return to Washington she took over. Selena y Los Dinos started to play whenever and wherever they could. Selena's father had experienced what happens when a 'Mexican' tries to sing in English so he started teaching Selena how to sing songs in Spanish phonetically. The Quintanilla family struggled but their hard work paid off.
When Selena was 15 she won her first Tejano Music Award. The TMA's are like the Grammy's for Tejano music. Selena recorded several albums for a local label, songs in both English and Spanish. Her brother started to write and produce her songs also. Slowly but surly Los Dinos became successful. Selena said in an interview that it wasn't until she started to win awards around this age that she took it seriously as a profession and not just something she was doing because her family needed money. She began to focus on singing as a career.
After being names Female Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the year several times, Jose Behar talked Selena's father into signing with the new label EMI Latin. Jose saw her perform at the 1989 TMA's, he said he had just opened the label and was looking for a needle in the haystack, the next Gloria Estafan, someone who could be a bilingual performer. Selena y Los Dinos had performed for a half hour at the beginning of the show that year. Selena Y Los Dinos was the first group signed with EMI Latin. They were also approached by another label but Mr. Q told A.B. that they were going with EMI Latin because they were the only group, the other label had a lot of artists and although it was more money, EMI Latin would have more time and money to focus on them and devote the energy to them that he knew Selena deserved.
Selena was already a star in the local Tejano market but now she was on her way to becoming an international star. "Selena" was released in 1989. It was a pivotal album for the group. AB produced it. That was a challenge for him and a fight for Selena and her father. The label wanted a professional producer, someone with experience, but Selena and her father convinced EMI to give him a chance. All the risks that Selena Y Los Dinos took paid off.
The next album in 1990 was Ven Conmigo. It was the first Tejano record to go Gold and had some great songs that would become the groundbreaking sound for Los Dinos. Baila Esta Cumbia was the song that started Selena's pop Cumbia sound. It was #1 in some places in Texas & Mexico and got her a lot of attention. At the TMA's that year and the following years, Selena again won Female Vocalist and Performer of the year.
In 1991 Selena recorded a duet with Alvaro Torres called Buenos Amigos. It was her first #1 on the Billboard charts. It also got her attention in Mexico. Many of his fans became Selena fans. Her vocals were beautiful and she took over the song. In late 1991 a woman approached Mr. Q about organizing an official fan club for Selena. She was persistent and Mr. Q thought it was a good idea. Selena was very popular and needed her own fan club. This woman will not be named here, just her initials as she doesn't deserve the fame of being mentioned. YS also aproched friend and fellow Tejano singer Shelly Lares, but Shelly's dad declined. Mr. Q didn't know that YS had approched Shelly first. Selena also started to fall in love.
Chris Perez was the guitarist in the band and caught her attention. They dated for several months and on April 2, 1992, got married. Selena's father was not so happy at first but soon grew to love his new son-in-law. Also that year Entre A Mi Mundo was released. This was their best album yet. Selena's first # 1 solo song was on it; Como La Flor. Although she had a previous #1 the year before this one was all on her own. The groups first official video was made for the song Carcacha. This album also was gold and because of the success in early 1993 EMI decided to record a live album.
In mid 1993 Selena live was released. It had 3 new songs but more importantly, got the attention of the Grammy awrads. She was nominated for the first time for Best Mexican-American album. 1993 was considered her breakthrough year, she also recorded another duet with a group called the Barrio Boyzz. They were also signed with EMI Latin but they were a pop group and Selena was considered Tejano. They each gave the other more territory in the US. Even though Selena had already recorded many pop songs this one showed her flexibility as a singer and it was also a #1. The other songs on the live album were up high on the charts too. Though she was busy touring and making videos and accepting awards she had time to design her own fashion line.
In January of 1994, she opened 2 boutiques, Selena Ect. The first in Corpus Christi and the second in San Antonio. Then in February of that year, she went to the Grammy's and accepted the award for Selena Live. She was on fire. She released her next album, Amor Prohibido that made her a superstar! She was on a Novela (soap opera) called Dos Mujeres, un Camino. She was asked to stay on the Novela but she was too busy. Because of this appearance, EMI Latin was able to secure a small part for her in the movie "Don Juan Demarco and the centerfold" starring Marlon Brando, Faye Dunnaway, and Johnny Deb. She plays a traditional Mariachi singer and is sceen 2 separate times, once on stage and once serenading Marlon and Faye. It was not released until about a week after her passing. She recorded several songs for the movie which were later released on her albums and are some of the most beautiful mariachi songs. She was proving she could do it all.a
She was happy, she was married, had a successful album, great family, and doing well with obtaining her dreams. In late 1994 she was nominated again for a Grammy. She was in talks to franchise out her boutiques and open one up in Monterrey, MX where she had just opened the manufacturing factory to bring the price point of her clothes down.
In early 1995 problems started to make Selena unhappy. Her fan club president was now the manager of her boutiques. She and the designer Selena had hired to help her, Martin Gomez, were always fighting. Selena bought out her designer contract. She was trying to go forward with her fashion and music. She was recording a new album in English.
Mr. Q started to receive phone calls from angry fans who hadn't received their fan club packs after paying. He started an internal investigation and found that YS was writing checks to herself using the fan club bank accounts. She had also been using Selena's boutique credit card to pay for personal items as well. Mr. Q discovered that YS had embezzled at least $60,000 from Selena.
She recorded a song called a boy like that for a charity album to raise money for the Grammys. On top of all this, she was also going to record another album in Spanish for her Latin fans and wanted to have her own perfume and makeup line. She was already working on her own perfume and several were released posthumously.
At the Grammy awards that year she, unfortunately, did not win, but she was just happy to be there. In February for the first time in 10 years, she did not perform at the Tejano Music Awards. But she sweated the awards. There was one award that she was nominated for and won but when the award was given out, they mistakenly announced another singer (Shelly Lares) as the winner and when they realized she was the winner she felt so bad for her friend that she cried and refused to accept the award. She later did go on stage to accept it because they taped the broadcast, but she still felt really bad for her friend Shelly. Later that month she went to the Houston Astrodome for the 3rd years in a row and set another record for attendance!
Selena was busy in March recording and performing at smaller venues. Mr. Q, Suzette, and Selena met with YS to ask her to explain what happened to the money. YS was fired as the boutique manager and fan club president. Selena removed her name from the bank accounts. She did need some documents though for tax purposes so Selena remained in contact with YS. YS had cleared out a file cabinet at one of the boutiques that contained the financial info for the taxes. Selena was still speaking with YS on occasion also because of the factory in Mexico and the perfume she was going to launch. YS had the perfume samples.
She was supposed to be at the studio of March 31, 1995, but instead went to the Days Inn to meet YS. She was there the night before with Chris to get some records for the boutiques that were missing but YS didn't return everything to Selena and Chris suggested they wait until the next day because it was late. So the next day early in the morning Selena went alone to take YS to the hospital because she claimed she was raped. Selena was already done listening to her former friend's lies but she really needed the documents back and couldn't help but feel bad for YS and take her to the hospital. At the hospital, Selena spoke to the nurse who said she was skeptical of YS actually being raped. Selena took her back to the hotel and they went back into the room. They fought in the room, hotel staff said they could hear 2 women arguing. At some point, the bag YS had with documents in it was dumped out on the bed and Selena took off the ring of friendship YS gave her. Selena was leaving the room when she was shot in the back severing an artery near her heart. She ran to the lobby dropping a briefcase, purse and cell phone along the way. She got to the hotel lobby and told them she had been shot and to lock the door. She collapsed to the floor and one of the hotel staff went to her aid. She was asked who did it and said YS name and room number before going unconscious. She was rushed to the hospital but it was too late. She was pronounced dead at the hospital after the doctors spent over an hour trying to revive her but because the artery was destroyed by the bullet she blead out and they were unable to fix it. The doctor said in an interview, even if he was right next to her when it happened the artery being destroyed made it impossible to fix the bleeding but if she had been shot 1/4 of an inch in any direction she would have survived.
She was on fire and seemed unstoppable until March 31, 1995. This will remain one of the most shocking moments in music history not only in the Latin market but in any genre because she was taken by someone she had trusted. She was shot in the back by her fan club president/boutique manager. Selena was silenced forever. Her dreams, ambitions, hopes, and plans were all gone. She was gone not realizing the impact she has already made on the world and never getting to see the one her death would make. In 23 short years, Selena's life was packed with amazing feats. She became the Queen of Tejano Music, opened it up for other women, was a great role model, opened 2 boutiques and designed her own line of clothes. She won a Grammy, broke attendance records as well as sales records and still remained down to earth and sweet.
Her family, friends, and fans have kept her memory alive and have contributed to many of her dreams coming true! Her family released a few perfumes after her death. She was honored by MAC with a limited-edition makeup line. Suzette ran her boutiques for several years but they were closed. The boutiques may be gone but many stores now carry Selena merchandise and there is a new Selena online store to purchase Tshirts and other items.