Selena Quintanilla Perez, the “Queen of Tejano,” was a Mexican-American singer from Corpus Christie, Texas. Hit songs including Dreaming of You, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, and I Could Fall in Love brought her to world-wide fame in the early ‘90s. Her presence was larger than life, and her tragic, senseless death brought the world to tears.
Born in 1971 in Lake Jackson, Selena got her start in music with the help of her father, Abraham, who noticed her vocal talent from a young age. Along with her brother and sister, Selena would perform at her father's restaurant, weddings, and other parties. Word of her beautiful voice began to spread, and soon she left school to focus on her career.
In 1989 she released her first studio album, Selena, and not long afterward fell in love with Chris Perez, who had joined her family’s band on the guitar. While Selena’s mother approved of the relationship, her father did not, believing Chris was no good for his daughter. When he started taking measures to keep him out of the picture, Selena and Chris eloped in 1992. Abraham took the news hard, but eventually accepted their marriage and welcomed his new son-in-law into the family.
As Selena released more albums and became more and more successful, she decided to start a fashion line. She opened several shops and hired Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her fan club, to manage them. Yolanda quickly fell out of favor with the employees, however, whom she treated dismissively.
Selena couldn’t believe that Yolanda, who she thought was her biggest fan, could really act that way, so she never took steps to correct the behavior. However, her father and other members of the family could see through to Yolanda’s cagey ways, and warned Selena on numerous occasions to keep an eye on her.
When it was eventually discovered that Yolanda had embezzled thousands of dollars from Selena’s ventures, Abraham threatened her with legal action if she did not hand over documents proving her innocence.
While he also told her to stay away from his daughter, Selena chose to give Yolanda the benefit of the doubt, and remained friends with her. But this would prove to be a fatal decision.
In late March 1995, in order to avoid having to hand over to Abraham the documents he demanded, Yolanda claimed that she had been assaulted. Selena believed her and accompanied her to an exam. Back in the hotel room where Yolanda was staying, Selena requested the documents. Yolanda then pulled out a gun and shot Selena.
Bleeding heavily, Selena was able to escape the room. Emergency services was called and the singer was rushed to the hospital. All attempts were made to save her life, but the loss of blood was too severe. Selena Quintanilla Perez died March 31st, 1995 at the age of 23.
A public viewing was held in Corpus Christi on April 2, at which countless fans paid their respects. She was buried the next day at Seaside Memorial Park.
Yolanda Saldivar was convicted of her murder and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
To learn more about Selena's life, I recommend watching the 1997 movie "Selena," starring Jennifer Lopez. It does a wonderful job at documenting her childhood and rise to fame.
I have never been to see Selena’s grave in Corpus Christie, but would love to pay my respects one day. Have you ever visited there? Let me know your experience in the comments below.