Selena
She was, and still is, the Queen of Tejano. (Illustration by Maya Vargas, Scripps College)

25 Years After Her Death, Selena Is More Popular Than Ever

It’s been decades since the Mexican American singer was tragically killed, but her cultural impact lives on in many ways.

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Selena

It’s been decades since the Mexican American singer was tragically killed, but her cultural impact lives on in many ways.

If you search “Selena” on Google, the first result is for the singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Twenty-five years after her death, she’s still widely known simply as Selena.

Often referred to as the Queen of Tejano, she was popular among both Spanish and English speaking crowds, as she regularly mixed both languages in her recordings. Her legacy continues to grow so many years after her tragic death in 1995, when she was only 23 years old.

Her Cultural Impact

Selena was introduced to music during her early childhood. She joined her family band formed by her father, Selena y Los Dinos. She recorded and released five albums with the band before venturing off on a solo path.

Due to Tejano music being a predominantly male genre, the female performer was often doubted and brushed off from bookings and labels. The skepticism toward Selena quickly faded as she rose to popularity. She mixed styles of music to create her own particular sound within the genre.

Tejano music originated among the Mexican American populations in Texas. Selena took the music that was regionally popular and brought it to the mainstream market. Though she had a tough time gaining bookings and fans at the beginning of her career, her popularity emerged in the late ‘80s, when she received her first award.

In 1986, Selena was awarded the Tejano Music Award for female vocalist of the year. This was the first of 36 Tejano music awards she received, more than 10 being after her death.

She mainly sang in Spanish, while she spoke mostly in English. She continually mixed both languages. With styles of Mexican and American culture in her music, she showed fans that it was okay to embrace your identity. She was set to release her first English album around the time she was killed. The album was released posthumously and remains the bestselling Latin album of all time in the United States.

Her Legacy Lives On

Soon, “Selena: The Series,” will be added to Netflix’s growing list of original series. It is set to be released later this summer. Not much information is known about it, but it will be a biographical, multi-part series that will release a few episodes at a time. The Quintanilla family is supposedly involved in production, so that gives fans hope that it will be a raw but not overly dramatized look at her life.

And who could forget the 1997 biographical film “Selena,” starring Jennifer Lopez? It gave fans, new and old, a look into her life from a musical and personal standpoint. Something fans can appreciate about this movie was that it focused on her life and spent very little time on her death. The tragedy got a few minutes of screen time, but the film ultimately ended in a tribute to Selena, with the posthumously released song “Dreaming of You” playing into the credits.

One of Selena’s most recognizable traits, also replicated in the movie, was her smile, covered in bright, red lipstick, which often stained her microphones. In April 2020, MAC Cosmetics released a second makeup collection inspired by the singer.

The makeup series is called Selena: La Reina, which translates to “the queen.” To top it off, the beautiful packaging is inspired by one of her iconic bustiers. The first collection sold out quickly and demanded a restock, so it’s possible that will happen for the new collection as well.

Speaking of her iconic lipstick and fashion, fans can see her microphones and outfits on display at the Selena Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her microphones are some of the many pieces of memorabilia curated by her family for fans to admire. The collection includes her red Porsche, some of her best outfits, collectibles dedicated to her and much more.

The outfits on display at the museum demonstrate her fashion sense. Of the items of clothing on display, perhaps the most recognizable is the sparkly, purple jumpsuit that is often imitated, but never duplicated. It’s a favorite Halloween costume for a lot of people, but no one pulls it off quite like Selena at her last concert.

Her last televised performance was in February 1995, at the Houston Astrodome. It is widely regarded as one of her best performances ever. At the time, the show broke attendance records for the venue. It was recorded and later released as an album, and there are clips from the concert available on YouTube.

Of course, no one knew that would be the last concert we’d see from Selena. About a month later, Selena was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldívar, the former president of her fan club. Shocked fans mourned and gathered to remember the singer.

More than 60,000 fans attended her funeral a few days later, lining up for over a mile to pay respects. The community continues to honor her every year on April 16, her birthday. George W. Bush, governor of Texas at the time, declared it Selena Day.

Fans Continue To Celebrate Her Life

Fans keep her memory alive in so many ways that it’s difficult to list all of them. Though we only got to experience a sliver of what she had to offer, her art has lived on through the years and gains new fans as time goes on.

More and more tributes continue to appear, through new products and fan-created projects. It’s safe to assume Selena would have given us many more years of music and fashion, among other ventures, if she had been able to.

Selena broke stereotypes, and she inspired and touched many audiences. As we continue to enjoy what she put out during her lifetime, there is no denying that Selena will remain timeless and will continue to be one of the greats.

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