Texas Originals

Selena Quintanilla Pérez

April 16, 1971–March 31, 1995

Selena Quintanilla Pérez is one of the most recognizable Texans in modern history. The Grammy-winning singer’s cumbia rhythms and magnetic stage presence brought Tejano music to unprecedented levels of success.

Born in 1971, Selena grew up surrounded by music, performing with her siblings at the family restaurant in Lake Jackson. In the early 1980s, the family moved to Corpus Christi, and Selena y los Dinos released their first single. By eighteen, Selena had a major record deal and the first of many Tejano Music Awards.

Already a hometown legend in Corpus, Selena's star rose quickly in the Latin music market with hits like "Como la Flor" and "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom." The queen of Tejano music was poised to break into the English-language market.

In February 1995, Selena broke attendance records with a spectacular concert at the Houston Astrodome. This would be her swan song; the following month, she was shockingly murdered by Yolanda Saldivar, the former president of Selena’s fan club, in a business dispute. The loss sparked an outpouring of grief across the Southwest and anticipation for her final album, Dreaming of You.

Selena’s legacy has only grown in the years since and rightly so. She was a rare artist who could be both relatable and ethereal, silly and serious, proud of her South Texas roots while sharing her gift with the world.

For More about Selena Quintanilla Pérez

As Selena became an established Tejano artist, the Quintanillas secured a location in an industrial area of Corpus to construct a state-of-the-art studio. In 1998, following Selena’s passing, they devoted that same attention to detail to create a museum in the space as a tribute to the artist’s history and memory. The museum houses Selena’s gold and platinum records, numerous awards, fan art, and, especially, a wide range of the stage outfits and fashion designs in which Selena took so much pride.

Along the seawall in Corpus there are a series of miradores, or lookout points, where markers recount the long history of the Coastal Bend from the indigenous Karankawa through Spanish exploration to the rise of Mexican and Anglo ranching cultures. After Selena’s death, the city added the most well-known of these, Mirador de la Flor, with a sculpture of a white rose and a statue of Selena leaning casually against a pillar, approachable in her commemoration as she was in life. The mirador has become a key site of Selena remembrance and tribute.

Ramón Hernández was a key publicist, writer, and connector of people during the wave of success in the 1980s and 1990s that brought new visibility to the Tejano genre with Selena, Emilio Navaira, Mazz, La Mafia, and Shelly Lares. Along the way, he collected materials related to the music’s present as well as its history—photographs, correspondence, stage outfits, promotional materials, artist merchandise, albums, and much more. The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University mounted an exhibition of the materials in 2017 and subsequently acquired them as a repository for scholars and researchers interested in Tejano music history. Hernández was close to Selena during her meteoric rise, and her early career is well-represented Ramón Hernández Tejano Music Collection.

Selected Bibliography

Colloff, Pamela. "Dreaming of Her." Texas Monthly, April 2010.

Mejía, Paula. "Selena at 50: Celebrating the Life, Art, and Influence of a Tejano Legend." Texas Monthly, April 2021.

Orozco, Cynthia. "Quintanilla Pérez, Selena [Selena]." Handbook of Texas Online

Paredez, Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.

Patoski, Joe Nick. "The Queen Is Dead." Texas Monthly, May 1995.

Patoski, Joe Nick. Selena: Como la Flor. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1996.

Peña, Manuel. Música Tejana: The Cultural Economy of Artistic Transformation. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999.

Vargas, Deborah. Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 

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Spanish Translation

Download the Spanish translation of this Texas Originals script.

Portrait of Selena Quintanilla Pérez.
Mirador de la Flor, a monument to Selena in Corpus Christi.