Tributo A La Reina Del Tex-Mex: Selena Quintanilla Perez

The original tribute magazine.

It’s hard to believe that 16 years have gone by since the one and only Selena Quintanilla Perez passed away.  I still remember finding out the news from my dad.  He picked us up from high school – my younger brother and I – and told us the news as soon as we got in the car: “guess what?  Selena is dead.  Somebody killed her.”

One of my favorite collages of Selena.

“What!?  She was so full of life!” we thought as we drove home in pretty much utter silence.  I remembered her silly interviews on television shows like Onda Max and Johnny Canales, the infamous diez y cuatro confusion on Cristina, her debut acting role in the TVyNovela Dos Mujeres un Camino, how she spoke and sang in Spanish, but spoke English as well as we did at home (something I had not seen in another artist before her), and of course her charisma and electrifying voice.

My own collection of tributory magazines.

Never again would we hear the deejays on the radio announcing Selena y Los Dinos coming to perform in Houston, never would we be able to see her at the Houston Rodeo again.  It was quite a shock.  Even more shocking, the outpouring of emotion and sadness across the country… even the world, at the death of La Reina del Tex-Mex Selena Quintanilla Perez.

Special edition, tribute People magazine.

What I don’t think any of us knew then, or could have imagined, was just how large of an impact her star would actually have on the overall perception of Latinos in America.  Not just Texans or Mexicans, but all of us.  In a way she awakened the rest of the country, especially advertisers, to our existence and strength in numbers.  For better or for worse, her passing left the door and several windows wide open for the rest of us to take advantage of.

Doing what she did best...

In Texas, the anniversary of her passing is always a big deal.  I’m not exactly sure how significant it is in other parts of the country, but I am assuming equally memorable since it usually inspires national tributes on English and Spanish language media.  For us Tejanos, she was and still is our pride and joy, the little girl from Corpus Christi who dreamed big and made it even bigger… before leaving well ahead of her time.

Selena, we miss you!

Here one of my favorite Selena songs, ‘No Me Queda Más’

More on Selena at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selena

15 thoughts on “Tributo A La Reina Del Tex-Mex: Selena Quintanilla Perez

  1. She was something special. I don’t know if it’s because I was raised in an Anglo family or because I lived in the DC area (far north from the Tex-Mex scene), but I didn’t hear her music until after she had been killed. I remember hearing “Dreaming of You” on Kasey’s Top 40 and thinking, “Wow, who is this?!” only to find out she was no longer alive 🙁

    1. Tracy, growing up here in Texas… her passing was a huge deal for us Tejano music fans. I remember radio stations playing her music nonstop for days, teary fans calling in to express their sorrow, candlelight vigils taking place all over the city… and just a general understanding among all of us Latinos that we had lost one of our brightest stars. It was like we had lost one of our own family members or friends… and in a way I guess we had, because she was our Selena.

      Sue-Helen, in the years since her passing there have been a few years that the date kind of went by unnoticed for me as well just because life will do that sometimes, but something about this year just made me want to say something about such an important person of our culture. Maybe because it feels like it was only just yesterday and not 16 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then, but her memory will always be a cherished one for me. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Selena was and continues to be an inspiration in my life. And I know I joke about it, but having my brother there to tell me the news of her death was the only thing that made me take it a little bit easier 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience, Juan. I knew she meant a lot to the community but it makes me understand on a deeper level just how much to hear it from someone who was there.

    1. Yeah, Tracy… being a Tejano and going through her death was like being a part of her inner circle in a way. It sounds weird to say that, but she was so ours that we actually felt her departure as a deep personal wound… but Selena was life and fun, energy, that’s what we should remember mostly!

  4. God Bless you Selena. 16 years later and you are still an icon in our lives. I remember being in high school working last period in the attendance office and my best friend calling me to tell me. My best friend was a white girl with little knowledge of how big she was but she knew the impact of the news.

  5. Thank you for posting Juan. She continues to be an inspiration in my life. I try my best to tell my kids about her and let them listen to her music. I tear up listening to her voice every now and then. She was and still is the best female Tejano artist.

    1. Melissa,
      I love hearing the stories of how people first heard about this tragic news. Even though they’re all different, they have such commonalities… and I think that’s what was so uniting about that moment in time. Even now. Thanks for sharing that memory.

      And Bobby,
      I often wonder if one day the younger generations will respond “huh who’s that?” when we ask them about Selena. Kind of what we saw recently with Elizabeth Taylor, whom we all knew who she was, but so many young people did not. I hope not. I’ll do my part to keep her music, talent and spirit alive.

  6. Great post on one of my favorite people! ♥ I remember coming home from school and seeing a dozen red roses on our dining room table. My Mom came to greet me at the door and gave me the news. I was in utter shock. Selena and Shakira were the first two artists whose CDs I incessantly begged my parents to purchase for me at the ripe age of 12, when I was starting to discover music and how the lyrics of songs spoke to me. I finally didn’t cry until later that night in bed. I had cried all night. I spent the next months comforting myself with her music. To this very day, I cannot listen to a song by Selena without developing a little knot in my throat before I start singing along…

    Thanks for a lovely post and sweet reminder 🙂

    1. Wow Trina, your words just brought a little not to my throat as well. I totally understand always feeling a little melancholic by her music, because it spoke so much to us… it was honest and natural, with a huge voice behind it. Whenever I hear her songs on the radio, out of respect, I always turn up the volume and sing along, and her CDs, most of them I have in my stack of music… and every once in a while I just get the urge to hear that music one more time. It’s infectious!

  7. Apenas catching up Juan! Wow… it´s been 16 years already?!
    Living in the center part of Mexico I really did not have much of an idea of who she was until I started going to Torreon for volleyball competitions (juegos inter escolares). My first host family there introduced me to Selena and I LOVED HER immediately. A year later, I happened to be in Torreon again when news reached us that she had been shot.
    That night we went to “dar el rol” at Paseo Jardin, (driving around in your car until u spotted someone cute) and everyone was playing her songs all the way up and crying.

    To this day she remains one of my favorite artists. And I must admit, JLo´s biomovie on her, LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.
    Ok, gotta go now listen to some Selena!
    Great post Juan, gracias!

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