Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was a 23-year-old Grammy-winning rising star bringing Spanish lyrics to the charts when she was murdered in 1995. I was only five when Selena was killed. My mom tells me that when the 1994 hit “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” used to play, I would sing the chorus to my newborn sister.
Selena is the first Latina role model I had. She broke through glass ceilings and was unapologetically her phenomenally Mexican American self. Watching videos of her perform enchanted me; no one else with her mainstream fame was singing in Spanish at the time. Selena radiated female power. Her confidence was intoxicating. She was destined for greatness and was breaking the mold of what it meant to be Latina in the United States.
In the quarter-century since the artist’s untimely death, the queen of Tejano music — a genre that originated at the Texas-Mexico border — has been honored in many ways. Through films, music, artwork, museums, murals, and brand collaborations, la reina’s legacy continues to live on beyond the tragedy that took her life, keeping her songs and alma in the hearts of new and old fans alike.
Posthumous tributes over the past 25 years have included massive street art murals, countless cover bands, and Selena-themed brunches where guests dress up in the singer’s iconic looks. The Selena Museum in the Q-Productions’ headquarters in Corpus Christi, Texas, displays some of the singer’s costumes and is operated by the Quintanilla family. Texas lawyer Ana-Maria Ramos filed a bill to make Selena’s birthday, April 16, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez Day.
Recently, Netflix collaborated with the Quintanilla family for the new Selena: The Series scheduled to premiere in 2020. Selena is immortalized at Madame Tussauds Hollywood and at the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with a record-breaking crowd of 4,500 attendees at the ceremony. In 2017, the National Museum of American History had its own exhibit on Selena.
Even in death, Selena’s dreams are being realized.