From September 15th to October 15th, Girls Behind the Rock Show is celebrating incredible Hispanic women musicians who have changed the industry for National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Selena Quintanilla was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. From the early age of 6, her father recognized she had a musical gift due to her perfect pitch. She and her siblings would perform in her father’s restaurant often, but after it was closed in the 80’s, they continued to perform together as Selena y Los Dinos, where they would play weddings, fairs, and quincé’s. As she grew in popularity as a performer, her father dis-enrolled her in the 8th grade( yet she would later receive a diploma from American School of Correspondence in Chicago). In 1984, she intended to make music in the English language but ultimately decided to record Tejano (Tex-Mex) music. She won Female Vocalist of the Year in 1987 and again for nine consecutive years. Although Selena and Selena y Los Dinos were very successful, Texas venues would turn them down because they believed she would never make it big in the music industry due to being a female in a male-dominated industry.
Selena released her self-titled debut album on October 17, 1989 while signed to Capitol Records. She recorded most of the songs at AMEN Studios in San Antonio, Texas. Selena peaked at #9 on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart in 1995, becoming Selena’s first recording to debut on a national music chart. In September 1990, Selena released her second studio album, Ven Conmigo. Out of Ven Conmigo came three singles: “Ya Ves,” “La Tracalera,” and “Baila Esta Cumbia.” The latter, a Tejano cumbia song, became one of Selena’s most successful single.
A month after her elopement, Selena released her third studio album, Entre a Mi Mundo, in May 1992. The album was critically acclaimed as her “breakthrough album.” Entre a Mi Mundo became the first Tejano album by a female artist to sell over 300,000 copies. On February 7, 1993, Selena held and recorded a free concert at the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi,TX and released Live!, a year after Entre a Mi Mundo. Live! won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Album at the 36th Grammy Awards, and she won Album of the Year at the 1994 Tejano Music Awards, Live!, was nominated for Regional Mexican Album of the Year at the 1994 Lo Nuestro Awards and was certified gold by the RIAA.
In 1994, Selena began her own fashion line and opened two boutiques called Selena Etc. Hispanic Business magazine reported that the singer earned over five million dollars from these boutiques. She was ranked among the 20th wealthiest Hispanic musicians who grossed the highest income in 1993 and 1994.
Selena released her fourth studio album, Amor Prohibido, in March 1994. It became the second Tejano album to reach year-end sales of 500,000 copies and became one of the best-selling Latin albums in the United States. Out of Amor Prohibido, four number one singles, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “No Me Queda Más,” and “Fotos y Recuerdos.” It was among the best selling U.S. albums of 1995, and has been certified 36x platinum.The album’s commercial success led to a Grammy nomination for Best Mexican/American Album at the 37th Grammy Awards in 1995.
Selena was named “one of Latin music’s most successful touring acts” during the Amor Prohibido tour. After Amor Prohibido‘s release, Selena broke barriers in Latin music. She was called the “Queen of Tejano music” by many media outlets. NPR ranked Amor Prohibido at number 19 on their list of the 150 greatest albums made by women in 2017. Selena continued touring while EMI began production on the crossover album. Unfortunately, on March 31, 1995, she passed away due to a gunshot wound caused by fan-turned-agent, Yolanda Saldívar, over an altercation over a $30,000 financial scandal.
Selena lives on through the world of Tejano music, urban fashion, the Latino music community and much more.