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Selena Quintanilla-Perez is a Latin American singer, one of the most famous performers in the techno and cumbia genre. In addition to music, she wrote poetry, created collections of clothes, and played on stage. At the peak of her popularity in 1995, she was shot dead by the president of her own fan club. Her story of life and death stirred up society and is still a topic of discussion largely due to the circumstances of her murder.
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Selena Quintanilla-Perez was born on April 16, 1971, in the east of Texas in the city of Lake Jackson, located in the resort area of the Gulf of Mexico. She was the youngest child of Marcella Ophelia and Abraham Quintanilla, and the blood of the Spanish conquistadors and the Cherokee Indians seethed in her veins. Her father was a musician in his youth, and later became the owner of a restaurant. It was for the entertainment of customers in his restaurant that he created an amateur group Selena y los Dinos, in which 9-year-old baby Selena was the vocalist, the middle sister Suzette drummed on the drum kit, and the older brother Abi on the guitar (“Selena Quintanilla”). Her father’s business gave Selena a strong push towards her career for she had an opportunity to gain some stage experience and, thus, additional interest in music.
fter the recession caused by the oil crisis of the 80s, the business went bankrupt, young musicians were forced to play on the streets of the city, they performed at weddings, fairs, and various events. Selena Quintanilla-Perez came to school exhausted, her grades dropped. The teachers threatened to report the situation to the Board of Education, to which Selena's father took his daughter out of school. Later, Selena nevertheless completed her studies by correspondence and entered Louisiana State University (“Selena Quintanilla”). Nevertheless, Selena never lost her interest in music and inspiration, and her time out of school greatly helped her in polishing her talent.
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In 1988, guitarist Chris Perez was invited to join the band. He had romantic feelings for the beautiful Selena. After a trip to Mexico, the young people became close and in 1992 they secretly got married, fearing a negative reaction from their father. Selena was not just a popular singer. She was loved for her kind heart and for participating in various charity events. Often, the artist performed for free for low-income families. About 65,000 spectators gathered for one of the concerts in Houston: no other techno performer has ever gathered such an impressive army of fans in one place (Hughes). Not only Selena’s talent but also her light-hearted nature earned her much attention from the public. This ensured her long-lasting legacy, even after the tragic events of 1995.
In 1990, Yolanda Saldivar offered to create an official fan club for the singer and began to manage two boutiques that sold clothes created by Selena. As it turned out, the manager was dishonest. The singer's father repeatedly received calls from disgruntled fans who paid for gifts and souvenirs from the fan club but never received anything. In 1995, Selena decided to meet with Yolanda Saldivar. During the conversation, the manager shot the singer in the shoulder. The bullet severed the carotid artery, and Selena Quintanilla-Perez died of blood loss, despite the best efforts of the doctors (Valdez). Although the murderer was put on trial and received a first-degree murder sentence, the general public could not accept the fact of the singer’s death. An extraordinarily strong public persona of Selena developed at such a young age resulted in a strong legacy that is still remembered today.
At that time, the death of the singer stirred up the entire Latin American community. Many Texas radio stations stopped their regular broadcasts and devoted an entire day to Selena's music. About 60,000 people arrived in Corpus Christi to say goodbye to the singer. In October 1995, a Texas state court convicted Yolanda Saldivar of first-degree murder and sentenced her to life in prison (Hughes). Even after that, her fans were still not able to forgive what has been done. Yet, Selena’s fanbase did the best they could and remembered the singer kindly.
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Selena was, perhaps, one of the most phenomenal young singers of the 1990s. Despite constant touring, Selena found time for charitable work. She was a representative of the AIDS Society, participated in the programs "Get the Children Back to School", "Say No to Weapons!", and gave free concerts for the poor. After her death, the efforts of the singer's father released a number of albums, which include early and unreleased songs. In June 2006, the Selena Museum opened. Despite her short life, Selena is still popular in Latin America and remains a role model for many. Her talent along with her charitable and selfless public image earned her a long-lasting legacy the singer deserved.
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"Selena Quintanilla". Biography, 2022, https://www.biography.com/musician/selena.
Hughes, Sarah. "Remembering Selena: The Legacy Of A Murdered Star". The Guardian, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/nov/22/remembering-selena-queen-of-tejano-netflix.
Valdez, Carlos. Justice For Selena -The State Versus Yolanda Saldivar. Trafford Publishing, 2005.
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