Selena Quintanilla Perez Biography
The youngest child of a Mexican-American couple, Selena released her first album at the age of fourteen. She won Female Vocalist of the Year at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards and landed a recording contract with EMI a few years later. Her fame grew throughout the early 1990s, especially in Spanish-speaking countries.
Selena attained further notability in North America after she was murdered at the age of 23 by Yolanda Saldívar, the president of her fan club. On April 12, 1995, two weeks after her death, George W. Bush, governor of Texas at the time, declared her birthday "Selena Day" in Texas. Warner Brothers made a film based on her life starring Jennifer Lopez in 1997. As of June 2006, Selena was commemorated with a museum and a bronze life-sized statue (Mirador de la Flor in Corpus Christi, Texas), which are visited by hundreds of fans each week.
Selena was born in Lake Jackson, Texas, to a Mexican father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr. and a Mexican-American mother, Marcella Ofelia Samora, and was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. She began singing at the age of six; when she was nine her father founded the singing group Selena y Los Dinos, which she fronted. They initially performed at the Quintanilla family's restaurant, PappaGayo's, but the restaurant failed shortly afterwards.
The family soon went bankrupt and was evicted from their home. Taking their musical equipment in an old bus, they relocated to Corpus Christi, Texas. There, they performed wherever they could: at street corners, weddings, quinceañeras, and fairs. Their efforts at spreading their names and talents paid off in 1985 when the fourteen-year-old Selena recorded her first album for a local record company. The album was not sold in stores and her father bought all of the original copies. It was re-released in 1995 under the title Mis Primeras Grabaciones.
Selena did well in school, but as she grew more popular as a musical performer, the travel demands of her performance schedule began to interfere with her education. Her father pulled her out of school altogether when she was in eighth grade. She continued her education on the road; at age seventeen she earned a high school diploma from The American School of Correspondence in Chicago, Illinois. Selena released her second album, Alpha, in 1986.
At the 1987 Tejano Music Awards, Selena won Best Female Vocalist (and dominated the award for the next seven years). In 1988, she released two albums, Preciosa and Dulce Amor. In 1989, José Behar, the former head of the Sony Latin Music division, signed Selena with Capitol/EMI, a record company he founded. He later said that he signed Selena because he thought he had discovered the next Gloria Estéfan. Selena signed a contract with Coca-Cola to become one of its advertising spokesmen in Texas that same year, and her concerts drew thousands of people.
In 1988, Selena met Chris Pérez, who had his own band. Two years later, the Quintanilla family hired him to play in Selena's band and they quickly fell in love. At first her father did not approve of their relationship and went as far as firing Pérez from the band. He eventually came to accept the relationship. On April 2, 1992, Selena and Pérez were married in Nueces County, Texas, and Selena added her new husband's surname to her own.
In 1990, Selena released another album, Ven Conmigo, written by her main songwriter and brother Abraham Quintanilla, III. This recording was the first Tejano album recorded by a female artist to achieve gold status. Around the same time, a registered nurse and fan named Yolanda Saldívar approached Selena's father with the idea of starting a fan club. Her wish was granted and she became the club's president; later she became the manager of Selena's clothing boutiques. Selena released another hit album in 1992, Entre a Mi Mundo, which also achieved gold status. Songs from that album, such as "Como La Flor", helped make Selena a star. Her 1993 Selena Live! album won a Grammy award for Best Mexican-American Performance.
Selena released her next album, Amor Prohibido, in 1994. The album was nominated for another Grammy award for Mexican-American Album of the Year. She began designing and manufacturing a clothing line in 1994 and opened two boutiques called Selena Etc., one in Corpus Christi and the other in San Antonio. Both were equipped with in-house beauty salons. Hispanic Business magazine reported that the singer earned over five million dollars from these boutiques. Selena also made appearances alongside Erik Estrada in a Latin soap opera titled Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.
Selena and her band continued to receive accolades; Billboard's Premio Lo Nuestro awarded them six prestigious awards including Best Latin Artist and Song of the Year for "Como La Flor". Coca-Cola released a commemorative bottle in her honor to celebrate their five-year relationship. Meanwhile, her duet with the Barrio Boyzz, "Dondequiera Que Estes", raced to the top of the Latin charts. This prompted Selena to tour in New York City, Argentina, Puerto Rico and Central America where she was in growing demand. The duet with Salvadoran singer Alvaro Torres, "Buenos Amigos", was also a hit.
By fall of 1994, Amor Prohibido was a commercial success in Mexico and made four number one Latin hits, replacing Gloria Estefan's Mi Tierra on the chart's number one spot. It sold over 400,000 copies by late 1994 in the U.S. and another 50,000 copies in Mexico, reaching gold status. At this point, Selena developed plans to record an English-language album, but continued to tour for Amor Prohibido while beginning preparations for the album. Her next album Selena Live! won Best Mexican-American Album at the 36th Grammy Awards.
In 1995, Selena made a cameo appearance in the romantic comedy Don Juan DeMarco, which starred Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway; she appeared as a background mariachi singer during the first scene. In February 1995, Selena played a concert at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in the Houston Astrodome, which attracted over 65,000 fans—more than country stars such as George Strait, Vince Gill and Reba McEntire. Despite her busy schedule, Selena visited local schools to talk to students about the importance of education. She also donated her time to civic organizations such as D.A.R.E. and planned a fund raising concert to help AIDS patients. These demonstrations of community involvement won her loyalty from her fan base. Selena scheduled her English album for release in the summer of 1995. Afraid that her fans would think she was turning her back on them, she was working on a new Tejano album as well. Meanwhile, she planned to open two more boutiques including one in Monterrey, Mexico.
In early 1995, the Quintanillas discovered that Yolanda Saldívar, the president of Selena's fan club (Texas-section) and the manager of her boutiques, was embezzling money from the fan club and decided to fire her. Soon after the fallout, Selena agreed to meet Saldívar in a Days Inn hotel in Corpus Christi on the morning of March 31, 1995 to retrieve paperwork for tax purposes. At the hotel, Selena demanded the missing financial papers. Saldívar delayed the handover by claiming she had been raped in Mexico. The singer drove Saldívar to a local hospital where doctors found no evidence of rape. Saldívar returned to the motel where Selena again demanded the missing financial papers.
Selena told her that she just couldn't be trusted anymore and removed a friendship ring that Yolanda had given her. At 11:48 am, Yolanda drew a gun from her purse, pointing it at Selena. As the singer turned and left the room, Saldívar shot her once in the back. Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby to get help. She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called 911, with Saldívar chasing her, calling her a bitch. Before collapsing to the floor, Selena named Saldívar as her assailant and gave the room number where she had been shot. After an ambulance and the police arrived on the scene, Selena was transported to a local hospital. She died there from loss of blood at 1:05 p.m., at the age of 23.