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Why one of the biggest names in Latin music is still very much alive in 2016 and 2017!

Selena%2C+as+seen+during+a+massive+sell+out+concert+in+Monterrey%2C+Mexico+in+1994
Selena, as seen during a massive sell out concert in Monterrey, Mexico in 1994

Selena, as seen during a massive sell out concert in Monterrey, Mexico in 1994

Photo Courtesy: Jean Miracle (Selfanaticos Online)

Photo Courtesy: Jean Miracle (Selfanaticos Online)

Selena, as seen during a massive sell out concert in Monterrey, Mexico in 1994

Jose Serrano, Staff Writer

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Does the name Selena sound familiar to you?  Many Hispanics in the US know that name very well, however, they only know her as “that singer who died.” She was more than just a singer. She was a role model, activist for womens rights, also a fashion designer. If you speak Spanish, but only stick to the Americanized side of music, I HIGHLY urge you to listen to her music. She truly is an icon of what is now latin music. She was part of the latin explosion. As the years pass by, more and more specials and tributes are dedicated in her honor. Her legacy gets stronger rather than fading away. She is simply unforgettable.

For those of you who are weirdly clueless about who Selena is; she was an american singer who made her mainstream mark in the 90’s. She was born in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1971. Her father created a family band in the 80’s that consisted of her and her siblings Suzette and A.B. Quintanilla.

While Selena grew up in Lake Jackson, in the Mexican restaurant her father owned, the family band began playing. However, they lost the restaurant in the recession of 1983, and got evicted from their home. They then moved to Corpus Christi, where they had family.

It was after this that the family started to use music as their sole way to earn money. They toured around Texas playing festivals and small parties from 1982-1989. In 1984, Selena won her first Tejano Music Award, which is the most prestigious award for the genre she played. She won consecutively for the rest of her life from that point on.

In 1989, she was offered a record deal from Capitol-EMI to be their first Latin group. Her father signed for the group, and from that point on, they rose to the top at a fast rate. Later she won several awards, including the prestigious Premio Lo Nuestro, and award that is presented by Univision, which is awarded to the best singers and groups of Latin Music. During that time, a Premio was the Latin equivalent of a Grammy. However, in 1994, she was finally acknowledged by the North American world as well, for she won a Grammy for her  album Selena LIVE! This was a groundbreaking accomplishment, not only for her, but for latin music as a whole. Prior to this, very few latin artists were nominated for Grammy awards  during that time because there were very few categories. The fact that she was not only nominated, but won, was phenomenal.

Also, in 1993 she opened a salon and boutique in Corpus Christi, and in San Antonio by 1994. She had plan to eventually expand the chain to Monterrey, as well as Mexico City. Her boutiques sold clothes from casual wear, to formal wear, and everything was designed by Selena herself, much like her acclaimed, original stage outfits.

Selena was also known for her humanitarian effort apart from her musical career. She was known to have benefit concerts for things like natural disasters, and for causes like encouraging kids to stay in school. One of the issues Selena was very known for speaking out against was domestic violence against women. She attended many charity events for this certain issue, visited shelters, and also made public service announcements, specifically in Spanish, advising women to speak out and call a confidential hotline if they were being physically and emotionally abused. This was the issue that she impacted the most. During this time, there wasn’t any Latina celebrity speaking out against this issue or encouraging women of Hispanic backgrounds to speak out against their abusers, especially those women who didn’t speak english and were most likely of an illegal background. When her first Spanish PSA aired, the Spanish hotline rang non-stop, with women who called because they said they recognized Selena’s voice on the television and radio telling them to seek help, and that they weren’t allowed, and that if they hadn’t heard her message, they wouldn’t have had the courage to call.

In 1995, she had just begun recording her English language album, which was projected to be a huge success in the mainstream market. By this point, she was known globally. She had become popular in the US, and gained wild celebrity status in Mexico, and Central and South America, as well as Spanish speaking countries like Cuba. She was definitely at her prime, and big things were coming her way. However, on March 31st, 1995, Selena was violently murdered by the President of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar. Her death was a huge blow to the Tejano music scene, and the Latin music scene all together. This came as an even bigger blow to the Latino community of the United States, for many had admired her and saw her as a pioneering role model. The backlash and reaction to her death was comparable to those of people like John Lennon and Elvis Presley.

Would Selena remain as relevant in the future as she was before? Would she be forgotten?

Of course she still is. Here are the reasons why.

Over the years, many tributes and musical efforts have evolved in her name, including a huge sell out televised concert in her honor on the 10th anniversary of her death. However, it wasn’t until 2015, that she has again been publicized and talked about, as if it were 1994 all over again.

In 2014, a petition for a M.A.C. Cosmetics collection to be in Selena’s honor was created by  fans, and started circulating the net. It only asked for 5,000 signatures, but received more than 32,000 signatures by supporters. By the 20th Anniversary of her passing in 2015, it was announced that M.A.C. would be releasing the line in October of 2016. It came out online in the US on October 1st,and it sold out so rapidly that it crashed their system. On October 6th, it came out in stores, with massive lines of fans waiting all night before, and the available products selling out that same day. A week later, it was released worldwide.

If that isn’t enough, she also had a wax figure reveal at the famous wax museum Madame Tussaud’s in Hollywood. A petition circulated in 2015 for a figure of her to be sculpted, and was noticed by the museum, which responded by saying they would take her into consideration. By July 2016, Tussaud’s announced that her figure was in the making,with the final product projected to  be ready by August 30th for viewing.The afternoon before the reveal day, people began to line up by the museum all night for a chance to see the figure. People had been able to pre-order an annual pass for her figure, and when purchased, the first 300 pass holders in line were guaranteed entry to her figure reveal. The wax representation was revealed around 6:00 in the evening that day, and received much media attention that it had to be unveiled on the roof because there wasn’t enough space in the museum for all the attendants.

The outpouring of fan loyalty they endeavored finally prompted others to acknowledge her impact. On June 28th, there was announcement that she would be receiving a star on the Hollywood walk of fame in 2017. She chosen for the walk of fame with many other big names such as Amy Adams, Ryan Reynolds and John Legend. There wasn’t much reason given as to why it took more than 20 years for her to receive a star, however, fans are extremely grateful. It is also mentionable that she received a star in front of the Hard Rock Cafe in San Antonio, Texas after she passed.

Years later, it’s undoubtable that Selena is a huge role model to all Latinos, and music lovers from all backgrounds in general. She showed that you can achieve anything you want if you work hard enough, and for Latinos, specifically Mexican-Americans. She showed us that we can go and make a name for ourselves here in America, and even in other nations that wouldn’t otherwise see us as one of their own. She helped us with our identity crisis, showed us we can be ourselves and go big.

Her music was ahead of it’s time and transcended cultural boundaries, and never goes out of style. She was taken from us so fast, in such a violent way, that we can’t and will never get over her death. Fans are determined to do anything to keep her name shining.

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