March 31, 1995:
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, Tejano music superstar, was killed by Yolanda Saldívar. She was 23 years old.
I wrote about the anniversary of her passing four years ago:
“Did you even know her before she died?”
“No,” I admitted.
He looked at me like I was a fraud. Well, not really. But that’s what I felt like when I admitted my pre-1995 Selena ignorance.
In 1995 I was busy getting through my freshman year of high school. All I listened to was KROQ and was pretty much over the banda craze of the early 1990s. I hardly ever switched the dial to any of LA’s many popular Spanish-language stations.
When my 8-year old neighor, Jorge, came over to our house to tell us the breaking news that Selena had been shot and was dead (or dying, can’t remember), I thought “who?” Jorge saw the look of confusion on my face and told me it was the woman who sang “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” I had some familiarity with the song, but didn’t know anything about the singer. Like many other people, I got to know Selena’s music posthumously and through the Gregory Nava film.
I remember watching the film in Ontario at the movie theater where my cousin worked (he got us in free, one of the perks of being employee of the year). I completely identified with the young Selena Quintanilla. My dad used to teach me Mexican songs. He’d translate the lyrics and explain what the words meant. Danny, my older brother, and I were put in singing contests and often willingly joined our dad when he brought out the guitar.
Go dance a cumbia in her honor. If you don’t have any songs available, check the Bicoastal Mixtape. I’ve posted a couple of her songs. Or watch the movie.