On a warm march day in 1995, radio announcers broke the news that another rock n' roll tragedy had happened -- 23-year-old Queen of Tejano Music, Selena, had been shot and killed by her fan club president at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas, just days before her 24th birthday, over missing documents and allegations of fraud. Although the reasons behind the shooting are still unknown, as Yolanda Salidivar, the killer refuses to acknowledge the truth behind the shooting, like whether it was an accident, she purposely shot Selena or they fought over something else.
The murder of Selena shook the entire music community and gave Selena the crossover to the pop music scene. She had been working so hard for it since she was a small child.
Most of us growing up in the 1990s on the East Coast didn't know about Selena or the Tejano music scene because it didn't reach us but when the biopic starring Jennifer Lopez came, we instantly became fascinated by the whole story of Selena from her growing up in the Barrio to that final concert at the Houston Astro dome and that awful day at the Hotel. We can quote every line of it like it's Rocky Horror and still wish for an alternative ending.
We identify with Selena and her story because it's the story of not just her but her whole family, rising up from a small town to becpme one of the biggest stars in Tejano music, basically putting herself on the mainstream map and moving in a new direction that could have made it or broke her. Unfortunately, the dream was never finished.
After Selena's murder, her english speaking album that she'd been working on tirelessly went double platinum in both the pop and Tejano music scene, giving the chance for the silenced golden voice to sing again and this time internationally. "Dreaming of You" and "I could Fall in Love" became an anthem for young love
Before her death, Selena was a Grammy winning singer as well as various other Tejano awards and was dubbed the Mexican Madonna. She even had a minor part in a movie starring Faye Dunaway, Marlo Brando and Johnny Depp as a mariachi singer. Unfortunately it wasn't released until after her death and she received a memorial credit at the end.
Although Selena only lived 23 years, nearly 19 years after her death, we still remember the fun and flirty way she danced across the stage, the way she'd put her spin on classic disco tunes. She held the audience in the palm of her hand; even in her videos you can see how much fun she was having and that was what the audience loved most about her. She was called the Artist of the People.
Selena was more than just a music icon, she was a fashionista who created some of her bands iconic outfits and what people most associated with Selena were her outfits, bustiers and leather jacket and leather pants. Most often, it was her outfits that people identified her most with. She knew how to be sexy without it being over sexual, something artists today need desperately.
We don't want to remember Selena's death -- we want to remember the different Cumbia rhythms she used to create some of her biggest hits, how she mixed different forms of music including German polk, salsa and others forms together, and how she managed to express her emotions without it being cluttered up. She was also known for being having an infectious laugh and her generosity/charity work spoke volumes, and she made it a point to be involved in the Texas School Systems, describing how kids should stay in school and that although she had a wonderful life, she most regretted not finishing school.
I admit I'm a total Selena fan. I love the music, the movie... I even have the movie poster on my wall and every time I see it, I hope and pray for an alternate ending, that maybe it was a mistake but it still comes down to that awful scene when Jennifer Lopez is being lowered into the ambulance.
Rock n' roll has had its share of tragedies, from the day the music died to Elvis and Aaliyah. The death of Selena was unnecessary, a future cut short over jealousy and missing records. I suppose some could say it comes with the territory of being in the public but this wasn't a deranged Mark David Chapman wanna-be, this was someone Selena trusted and it definitely makes a person be cautious of who they trust.
What was your favorite Selena song? Or your favorite part of the movie?
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