04/16/2014 12:51 pm ET

19 Reasons Selena Will Never Be Forgotten (PHOTOS)

Just weeks shy of her 24th birthday, Selena Quintanilla's life was tragically cut short at the hands of a friend.

“The Queen of Tejano Music” died on March 31, 1995 after the president of her fan club Yolanda Saldívar shot and killed the star at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas.

On the day that would have been Selena’s 43th birthday, we celebrate the star who left a legacy that has touched thousands of lives and lives on in the memory of her loved ones and fans.

Here are 19 reasons Selena will live on forever.

  • She Pushed Herself To Succeed Out Of Her Comfort Zone
    Selena has been immortalized as the “Queen of Tejano Music,” a Mexican-American musical icon that successfully broke into the Latin market with several Spanish-language hits.

    So it may come as a surprise to many that Selena didn’t actually speak Spanish at the beginning of her career. The star felt most comfortable in her native English, but her father Abraham Quintanilla taught her to sing in Spanish -- learning lyrics phonetically -- so she could resonate with the Latino community.

    As Selena’s popularity climbed, Abraham felt his daughter needed to learn Spanish to promote her music on Spanish-language radio and in interviews. By the time of her death, the singer had gained fluency but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the singer began taking Spanish lessons at all.
  • She Brought All Latinos Together With Her Music
    Selena may have been a Texas girl through and through but the star connected with her parents’ Mexican roots and her father’s musical past in a very special way.

    Throughout her career, Selena was not only inspired by Tejano music but created a fusion of musical genres that incorporated other Latin sounds and inevitably won over Latinos across the country.

    “A range of Latinos really connected with her,” Deborah Paredez, author of “Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory, told NBC. “She drew from pop, Tejano, calypso, Afro-Caribbean, and cumbia music, so she signaled across a lot of cultural identities.”
  • She Was More Than Just Musically Talented
    When it came to her performances, Selena not only brought her beautiful voice onstage but also her own designs.

    The singer began designing clothes around the age of 10 and had a hand at creating most, if not all, the outfits she wore on stage during her career.

    She felt so passionate about clothes that she opened two boutiques, one in San Antonio and the other in Corpus Christi. Selena Etc. Inc. boutiques not only sold the star’s signature line of fashions and accessories but had salons that offered customers hairstyling and manicures.
  • She Was The Latina Madonna
    Selena was known as the “Mexican Madonna” due to her sensual dance moves and sexy outfits. While Madonna may have first wowed audiences with her bustiers, it could be argued that Selena perfected the fashion with her sequin designs.

    Bustiers and curves never looked so good together.
  • She Was A Latina Child Star
    Selena’s talent was apparent at a very young age. The Tejano Queen became the lead singer of her family’s band, Selena Y Los Dinos, around age 9 and never looked back.

    With her brother on bass guitar and her sister on drums, the band started out playing at weddings, clubs and their father’s restaurant in Texas.

    The group was managed and produced by their father Abraham and quickly became popular locally. When Selena went solo her act dropped “Y Los Dinos” though her brother and sister continued to be a part of her band.
  • She Was A Dominating Force In Tejano Music As A Teen
    "Selena Y Los Dinos" had their first big break in 1987, when 15-year-old Selena was named Female Vocalist of The Year and Performer of The Year at the Tejano Music Awards.

    In fact, Selena won “Female Artist of the Year” for 9 years in a row.
  • She Was Truly "The Queen Of Tejano Music"
    By 1990, her album "Ven Conmigo" was the first Tejano record to achieve gold record status -- selling over 500,000 copies.

    Selena didn’t stop there. When it came to her contribution to Tejano music she was also the first Tejano artist to chart on Billboard’s Latin Top 200 of All Time Best Selling Records.
  • She Was On Her Way Up And Seemed Unstoppable
    Selena’s popularity continued to rise along with sales and in 1993 her album "Live" won the Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album.

    She was the first Tejano artist to ever win a Grammy Award.
  • She Never Let Fame Or Money Go To Her Head
    Roque Planas/The Huffington Post
    Despite the fact that her family came to be worth an estimated $5 million, according to People magazine, most of them continued to live in three adjoining houses on the same lower-middle-class neighborhood of Corpus Christi. Selena did, however, treat herself to a red Porsche Carrera that could be seen in her driveway.
  • She Married Her First Love
    Selena married her lead guitarist, Chris Pérez, in a secret ceremony in 1992.

    The singer's father did not approve of the couple's relationship, but Selena and Chris refused to take no for an answer and said their vows less than 5 years before her death.

    In 2012, the widower released the book "To Selena, with Love," in which Pérez recounts his memories with his wife.
    (AP Photo/Celebra)
  • Her Story And Death Touched Thousands Of Lives
    Getty Images
    Selena’s tragic death came as a shock to her fans and their grief could be felt by the entire country -- but especially in her native state.

    “I’m old enough to remember Dallas and JFK and it seemed like the same thing all over again,” Texas historian and author of “Selena: Como La Flor” Joe Nick Patoski told NBC. “For Mexican-Americans in Texas, the reaction was intense and deeply personal. To this day, an entire generation remembers where they were when they heard the news.”

    And Patoski isn’t exaggerating, approximately 50,000 mourners came to Selena’s public viewing in Bayfront Plaza Convention to pay their respects and express their love after her death.

    (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
  • She Had An American Dream Too
    As an American child, Selena’s dream was always to reach success in the English market.

    The day her life was tragically cut short, Selena was expected at the studio to work on her first English-language album “Dreaming Of You.”

    Only 4 of the 13 tracks envisioned for the album were recorded yet the record went multi-platinum when it was released posthumously. The album sold over 5 million copies and surpassed Mariah Carey’s sales records.
  • She Realized Her Life Long Dream
    At the time of its release in July 1995, "Dreaming Of You" became the fastest-selling album by a female artist in pop history.

    The album sold more than 400,000 copies in its first week -- 175,000 copies on its first day alone -- and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.

    Selena had officially crossed over.

    "It is the most bittersweet feeling imaginable," President of EMI Latin Jose Behar, who signed Selena in 1989, told The Washington Post in July 1995. "We -- her family, myself and obviously Selena -- had this dream since 1989, and we now see it coming to fruition. There's this incredible celebration of Selena's music, and she's throwing the party, but she's not going to be there."

    (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Dave Einsel, file)
  • She Didn't Stop Breaking Records...
    By July 1995, the English-language hit "I Could Fall In Love" was No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart while "Tú Solo Tú" held the No. 1 spot.

    It was the first time an artist had both a Spanish- and English-language song in the Top 10.

    (Foto AP/George Gongora-Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Archivo)
  • ...And Making History For Latino Artists
    After Selena’s death, fans rushed to buy not only her posthumous record but the albums that had marked her career.

    At one point five of her albums occupied the top six spots on the Billboard Latin charts.

    She was the first recording artist to place five Spanish-language albums simultaneously on the Billboard 200.
  • She Gave The U.S. Media A Latino Wake Up Call
    Selena’s death came as a shock to her fans and home state but it was the entire country’s reaction to her passing that came as a shock to the media.

    Weeks after the Tejano singer’s death, People magazine release a commemorative issue in honor of Selena. The magazine printed an English and a Spanish version.

    Within days of its release, the Spanish version had been sold out everywhere. In the end, People would have to go through six more reprint ressions of the Spanish-language issue to meet demand.

    After its sixth reprint, the magazine decided to create a permanent Spanish-language edition of their magazine. It was due to Selena’s death that “People en Español” came to be.
  • Her Life Influenced Some Of Today's Stars
    The Hollywood film, "Selena," based on her life was the breakthrough role for Jennifer Lopez.

    Since then J.Lo's career has reached unimaginable heights with a successful music trajectory complemented by the Nuyorican star's love of acting and producing.

    Disney star Selena Gomez was also named after the Tejano superstar.
  • Because Of "Selena Day"
    Former President George W. Bush and then Governor of Texas declared April 16th “Selena Day” just weeks after the star’s death in honor of her birthday. Every year there are still celebrations to commemorate the star.

    Selena is not only immortalized in the memory of her fans, but in the Selena Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas and on her own postage stamp.

    (Foto AP/Paul Iverson)
  • Because We’ll Never Know How Far She Could’ve Gone
    Selena was far from reaching her potential when she was killed just weeks from her 24th birthday.

    The Latin star’s passing was compared to the death of John Lennon because they were talented musicians whose careers had yet to peak when their lives were cut short.

    "This was not some sexy babe groomed by a record company," author Enrique Fernandez, and one of the country’s most respected critics of Latin music, told People magazine after Selena’s death. "We'll never be sure of how far she could have gone."
  • Because Her Fans Will Never Allow Her Memory To Fade
    On the 10-year anniversary of her death, the Quintanillas held the benefit concert "Selena ¡VIVE!" in Houston, Texas. Over 70,000 fans attended.

    For the 20th anniversary of her death, the family will be hosting la “Fiesta de la Flor" in the star's hometown, Corpus Christi, Texas. The festival will be held on April 17-18, a day after what would've been Selena's 44th birthday.