Selena Quintanilla wasn’t crowned the Queen of Tejano for nothing! Since her tragic passing in 1995, her music, beauty and fashion has stood the test of time. In the 25 years after her death, Selena has been forever immortalized and idolized through a film biopic, capsule collections, beauty lines, a wax figure at the iconic Madame Tussauds and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This year, her story will be told on screen once again, in a series set to premiere on Netflix.
Selena’s icon status isn’t a surprise. From her and Los Dinos’ humble beginning as a family band in Corpus Christi, Texas, to the day she performed her biggest concert at the Astrodome, she worked to create a brand that would last a lifetime. Selena created a blueprint that has yet to be followed. “The key to Selena was that she was the only homegrown Latina star,” Leila Cobo, Billboard’s Vice President, Latin Industry Lead tells HOLA! USA. “She was bilingual, she was bi-cultural, and she appealed to this whole generation of people who were born and raised here. There really had not been a star that was born and raised here that spoke to that generation.” Join us as we celebrate the Queen’s impact and cultural legacy.
Selena’s art will live on forever. During the course of her career, the Texas native released five studio albums and three live albums. In 1994, the songstress took home her first Grammy award for Best Mexican-American album for Live. Selena spent 20 weeks at the top of the Latin music charts with the release of her album Amor Prohibido and made history with the release of her posthumous album Dreaming of You, which debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200 charts in 1995.
The album was the first by a Latin artist to debut at number 1. She’s had 22 entries on the Hot Latin songs charts and left the world in awe with her stunning music videos. “You have these songs that are pop hits,” says Leila. “They’re so easy to remember, they memorable”
The blueprint for Latin music
As Latin music dominates the music charts and pop culture, it’s easy to envision a world with a Selena and Bad Bunny collaboration. In today’s climate, it is easy to see the mark she has made on Latin music and culture. In 2020, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira brought Latin music to the Super Bowl halftime show. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee smashed records with their 2017 hit, Despacito.
One of the biggest pop stars in the world (Selena Gomez) is her namesake. “Over the years, it always surprises me how many people are influenced by her,” Leila says. “There’s a whole generation of stars, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, who call her a big influence and inspiration. She did stuff that people weren’t doing then. People perceived her as very organic, very genuine. Not like some big machine that came up with her.”
And it is her style and grace that has created the blueprint for women in music today. “She didn’t have to use the word girl power she was girl power. I think the way she presented herself, she was very sexy, without being too sexual. I think that’s very powerful. She was very aware that she was a role model for little girls. I love her brand of girl power because she wasn’t talking about it – she was living it.”
It’s been 25 years since that tragic day in March 1995 when the songstress’ life was taken away too soon. In the decades that have passed, different generations have been introduced to her music, fashion and beauty. In addition to her iconic hits, Selena has been immortalized through clothing, beauty, a wax figure and one of the biggest honors in Hollywood.
“Her music, number one, the fact that she was such an entrepreneur and what she did around her image,” Leila adds. “It was her doing, it’s not like she was working with some image consultant about how she looked. She was someone who had all the elements to become a big star. I think she would have thrived in today’s environment with social media, with branding and everything. She was intuitively very smart about her business.”
One thing that has remained consistent is the singer’s narrative. In the months, years and decades since she first made waves on the music scene, the story of a woman who stuck by her family and found success from humble beginnings has always remained the same. There was no room for scandal, just work.
In the years following her passing, it has still rung true. “She was a very authentic person. I think part of the reason she’s become so appealing, she died young, and when you die young, you stay young forever. You have this music that is very timeless and the last thing that I think is so important was the fact she was from here. That she looked like girls from here looked. Even today, you can look at a Selena video from 25 years ago and you can see yourself reflected in that.”
There will never be another like her
One of the biggest reasons Selena has remained so effortlessly timeless is that she was one of a kind. Each characteristic, melody and outfit were uniquely hers. Today, there are a host of celebrated musicians in pop music, Latin music and beyond, but there will forever be one Queen of Tejano.
“Someone like Selena I just don’t see any other artist who is similar and who had this level of success. And it’s not for lack of trying, if you look through the charts you can see there were other artists who didn’t do as well. The whole story of humble beginnings, great success and tragedy, it’s always going to be a compelling story to tell.”
“If you have a dream don't let anybody take it away.” Selena Quintanialla-Perez