1. Selena Quintanilla was an American singer. Her parents were Abraham and Marcella, and she was the youngest of three children. She was born on 16th April, 1971 at Lake Jackson, Texas. She was killed on March 31st ,1995, soon before her 24th birthday.
2. Selena’s father was a musician, and had played in a band called Los Dios when he was younger. He soon realised that his youngest child had a special gift for singing, and decided to capitalise on it. He formed a family band, to back Selena, and they started performing at the family-owned restaurant, Papa Gayos, under the name Selena Y Los Dios. Selena could not speak Spanish, but her father wanted to cater to the Spanish speaking crowd, who were fond of Tejano music which was a fusion of American and Mexican music. He taught her to sing in Spanish. He composed most of the band’s material. The restaurant had to close down, and the family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas. Here, the band continued to perform at weddings and other occasions, and even on street corners. In fact, it became the main source of income for the family.
3. The band recorded for a Spanish language record company called Freddie, and later switched to other labels, without much success. In 1986, Selena’s talent came to the notice of two important people in the world of Tejano music. Rick Trevi was the founder of the Tejano Music Awards, and Johnny Canales was the host of a popular TV show in Spanish. It was not long before Selena’s name began to spread. In 1987, she won awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Performer of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards.
4. In 1989, the prestigious EMI label signed her on, and after this, her popularity grew steadily. In 1990, her album Ven Commigo was the first Tejano record to go gold, selling more than 50,000 copies. Her album Selena-Live was awarded a Grammy for Best Mexican American album, in 1993, and in the next year, her album Amor Prohibido went gold. In February, 1994, she performed for a crowd of more than 60,000 people in Houston, Texas, and was working on a crossover album with some songs in English, when she died.
5. Selena’s personal life was completely tied up with her family and career. She left school when she was in Grade 8, though she obtained her GED, which is the equivalent of a high school diploma, in 1989. She fell in love with Chris Perez, the lead guitarist of her band. Her father opposed the match, but due to Selena’s persistence, gave in. Selena and Chris married in 1992.
6. Selena enjoyed designing clothes, and when the opportunity to start a boutique came up, she grabbed it. A fashion designer named Martin Gomez helped her to open her first boutique called Selena Etc. in Corpus Christi, and she later opened another in San Antonio.
7. In 1990, Yolanda Saldivar approached Selena’s father with the idea of starting a fan club for Selena. She was given permission, and became a friend of the family, growing quite close to Selena. She started managing Selena’s boutique in San Antonio.
8. By 1995, complaints started coming in from fans about Saldivar. Martin Gomez also had problems with her. Selena’s father investigated, and found that Saldivar had been embezzling funds. Selena tried to stand up for her friend, but was forced to confront the truth. On March 31st , Selena went to meet Yolanda Saldivar at a hotel, and was shot in the back. She died soon after.
9. Selena was more than just a singing sensation. She had a strong sense of social welfare, and addressed students about the need to stay in school, the importance of getting a high school diploma and avoiding substance abuse. She was a spokesperson for D.A.R.E ( Drug Abuse Resistance Group) and the Battered Women’s Help Hotline. After her death, her contribution was acknowledged, and April 8th was designated as Selena Quintanilla Day.
10. Selena’s crossover album Dreaming of You was released posthumously, and became a huge hit, selling over 2 million copies. In 1997, a film was made on her life. Jennifer Lopez played Selena to critical acclaim. It was Lopez’s first starring role. On April 7th, 2005, a tribute concert was held in Houston, featuring popular Latina stars like Gloria Estefan. It is widely acknowledged that Selena Quintanilla was the pioneer in the attempt to bring Latin music into the mainstream of the American entertainment industry.
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