Whether coming from a Latin background or not, music lovers are able to identify the talent and influence of Selena Quintanilla.
Starting her music career at the age of 10, Quintanilla performed with her siblings at small venues in her native Texas town and quickly grew into her title as the “Queen of Tejano” — Tejano referring to the type of Mexican music that incorporated a variety of music styles.
Singing in Spanish and English, Quintanilla was adored among a wide spectrum of audiences. According to Billboard, although the young star only had two years of a recording contract under her belt, Quintanilla brought Tejano music into the mainstream light and had five No. 1 singles.
Daniela Marquez, sophomore communication disorders major, grew up listening to Quintanilla’s music and became a fan at the age of 8.
“I’ve listened to her music my whole life and the main reason she appeals to (me) is her appeal to the Chicano culture,” Marquez said. “Chicanos really don’t have their own music. We either listen to American music or Mexican music, and sometimes we can’t relate to that type of music because we are not fully American or fully Mexican. (Quintanilla’s) music style and her lyrics appeal to the Chicano culture because she sings in both English and Spanish. She is the artist who has mostly related to our culture.”
March 31, 1995, exactly 22 years ago, Quintanilla’s life and music career came to a tragic end. After leaving her home around 9 a.m., Quintanilla was shot in the back by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, at 11:49 a.m. and died just over an hour after the incident — weeks shy of her 24th birthday.
With such an apparent, bright future ahead of her, the loss of the young star deeply affected those who enjoyed not only her talent but who she was as a person.
Close to the two-year anniversary of her death, the biographical drama “Selena” was released March 21, 1997. Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez played the role of Quintanilla, and on the recent 20- year anniversary of the film, Lopez revisited her role in the film during an interview with Billboard.
“She had a sense of living in the moment, living in the pres- ent and following her heart,” Lopez said. “For me, that was the biggest lesson (of playing her).”
More than two decades after her death, Quintanilla’s legacy still remains among old and new audiences and across generations. She has remained an inspiration to many.
“She’s still going strong. … Fans are influenced by her because of who she is,” Marquez said. “Her genre of music is somewhat outdated now, but who she is as a person has held the most legacy.”
Quintanilla’s music and legacy lives on through her music and her fans.