By Jovanny Venegas Follow @JovannyVenegas
19-years ago today 23-year-old Selena Quintanilla-Perez was gunned down, in Corpus Christi, TX by her ex-fan club president Yolanda Saldivar. The singer was and is still known as the Queen of Tejano Music.
Selena’s death left made a major impact in the music world. Major networks interrupted their programming to break the news. Many Spanish-Language radio and television stations played 24 hours of non-stop tributes and news coverage. Selena’s funeral in Corpus Christi drew around 60,000 mourners. Two weeks after the Grammy Award winner’s death George W. Bush then Governor of Texas declared Selena’s birthday April 16 as Selena Day in Texas. Producers Keith Thomas (Vanessa Williams, Amy Grant, Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton) and Guy Roche (Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, Dru Hill) envisioned Selena as a dance-pop diva similar to Pop recording artists, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, but with a Latin twist. Both producers worked on Selena’s ‘Dreaming of You’ track.
Selena’s death was the first time a Latin artist had drawn so much attention. The American market saw the Latin buying power in the entertainment world, and jumped in. For example People Magazine published two commemorative issues in honor of Selena’s memory and musical career which sold over 1 million copies, afterwards ‘People En Espanol’ was born along with many other magazines. Selena also started the “Latin Crossover” which paved the way for Latin artists such as Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez and many more. ‘Selena‘ the movie was also responsible for launching Jennifer Lopez’s career, it was also the first time a Latina woman earned $1 million dollars for a starring role in a film.
Prior to her death Selena was very well known in the Latin music world. The young singer had a grammy to her name, her own clothing line, with two boutiques by the name of Selena Etc in Texas. The Mexican-American singer was also one of the top money earners in the Latin music world. She was breaking concert attendance records and drawing crowds of over 65,000 fans. Selena also made appearances alongside Erik Estrada in a Latin soap opera titled ‘Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.’ She was endorsed by Coca-Cola who had released a commemorative bottle in her honor to celebrate their five-year relationship.
In 1995, Selena also made a cameo appearance in the romantic comedy Don Juan DeMarco, starring Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway. Selena was also working on her first English-language cross over album which was never completed. Her record label EMI Latin’s purpose for the crossover album was said that Selena reached her peak in the Spanish language market and wanted to propel Selena into mainstream stardom as an American solo pop artist.
After her death in the summer of 1995 ‘Dreaming of You‘ a Spanish & English language album was released which debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, making her the first Latin singer to accomplish this feat and the second highest debut after Michael Jackson. On its release date, the album sold over 175,000 copies, a record for a female pop singer. EMI Latin’s president estimated that the album had sold more than 700,000 copies the first week knocking off the Pocahontas soundtrack and Michael Jackson from the top spot. The album itself was sold in more than 15 different countries around the world. In the months following the albums release, Selena became more known due to her songs, “Dreaming of You” and “I Could Fall in Love” which had heavy airplay throughout major English language speaking radio stations. Big name producers were attached to Selena’s cross over album who had already worked with well known artists such as Whitney Houston, Vanessa Williams, Mariah Carey, Janet jackson, TLC, and more.
If Selena were alive today, she would definitely be a dominant force in the music world. Such a tragic loss to the music world, she was only 23-years-old, she might be gone but her legacy will live on forever.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to cover the tribute concert “Selena Vive” in Houston, Texas. Which became the “most watched Spanish-language special” in U.S. history. Watch my coverage below and the other remembering Selena videos!
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