Manchester Regional High School

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Manchester Regional High School

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Selena Quintanilla: A Role Model for young Latin Girls

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Mexican singer Selena performing in concert; one month later she would be shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the pres. of her fan club, after confronting her on charges that she was embezzling funds. (Photo by Arlene Richie/Getty Images)

Who’s the Queen of Tejano music!?  Well that’s Selena Quintanilla of course! More known as Selena, this 23 year old Mexican American singer changed the music industry for young Latin artists. She became the best selling artist in the Latin music scene which later won her the Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album in 1994. Selena was tragically killed by the president of her fan club, just two weeks shy of her 24th birthday. Even still, her legacy lives on 28 years later.

Selena Quintanilla, born in Lake Jackson, Texas on April 16, 1971 to former musician Abraham Quintanilla Jr. and mother Marcela Ofelia. Selena’s father first got her and her older siblings into music and eventually they became “Selena y Los Dinos.” just when Selena was 10 years old. They performed at weddings, clubs, restaurants and even birthday parties. They incorporated their Tejano style with a Mexican and country sound. 

In 1989, Selena was later signed as a solo artist by music executive José Behar of EMI Records. From 1989 to 1995, Selena released 5 studio albums and became one of the fastest selling Latin artists ever. Selena was always winning awards, leaving the ceremonies with handfuls of trophies. At the 1987 Tejano Music Awards, Selena won Best Female Vocalist of the Year and Performer of the Year. In 1993, Selena won a Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album for her album Live! Selena’s most successful song, “Dreaming of You” peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. Selena saw seven songs hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, with 14 more songs ranking in the top 10. “Tu Solo Tu” topped the chart for 10 weeks, and “Amor Prohibido” earned No. 1 for nine weeks.

Selena’s legacy has been kept alive for so many years and it will continue. It’s had honorary holidays, awards, museums, and college courses. The Selena Museum, opened in 1998 by the Quintanilla family in Corpus Christi, Texas, honors Selena’s life and legacy. Selena has been a role model for many Latin Americans years later. “I’m a pocho Tejano. That’s what I am,” Nathian Rodriguez, a professor at San Diego State University, where he teaches a course on the late singer. “To me, that’s what Selena symbolizes, the in-between. She represents the borderlands, for people who are in the US but have Mexican heritage and aren’t from one place or the other.” The LGBTQ+ Community also feels very affected by Selena and what she stood for. “What makes Selena a gay icon is the element of self-fashioning she embodied,” he told CNN. “She wasn’t just self-made, in that she came from a working-class family. She also did her own makeup. She designed her own costumes. She was figuring out how she wanted to present herself to the world. That DIY aesthetic is important to queer people. They see that they can do things with their bodies, their clothes, their gender performance and be the person they want to be.” says Manuel Betancourt. 

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Selena Quintanilla changed the world just with the sound of her music. She changed people’s lives and how they view themselves. She grew into her love for music and showed what you can do if you put your mind to it. Selena never let anyone tell her she’s any less than what she’s worth. Young Latina girls have learned to accept who they are without changing who they are. That is who Selena Quintanilla is.

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    DemarcoSep 29, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    Amazing read!