Historia, Música

This day in Chicana herstory: Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is killed (1995)

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.

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6 thoughts on “This day in Chicana herstory: Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is killed (1995)

  1. Selenas!!!
    I admit, I didn’t really know her either when she died. However, I do remember the girls at my school wearing their “In Memory” shirts with her picture on them. There was heaps of those t-shirts being worn. However, I guess I am thankful for all those t-shirts because it inspired me to actually check out her music. I’ll admit, every now and then I have a little dance/sing session to “Techno Cumiba” and “Como la Flor.” good stuff right there.

  2. diana says:

    Wow! I’m so surprised you weren’t very familiar with her. I remember crying on my mom’s lap that day as they televised the whole thing with Yolanda in the hotel room. ahh, I think I’m still a little traumatized from that. RIP Selena!

  3. Laura,
    Once I became familiar with her, I really liked her music. It’s strange because for most of my life, I’ve been a pretty big fan of all “Latin” music, including the banda stuff. I probably just had my head in the ground in ’93-95.

    Diana,
    Aw, didn’t mean to bring up sad memories. Watching the stand off might have been too much for a kid.

  4. Maria Garcia says:

    I was in total shock when I heard Selena died. I cried for ever. I am a trueblue Selena fan. I still miss her. The reason I wrote this because I went to the store today and I recieved a whiteX rose Selenas fave flower. I am not over her death. My heart stll breaks at the mention of her name. I will always love Selena forever

  5. ya it waz to bad she died before i waz born i saw the movie and i jus luved her i checked her out online she so buetiful i cant believe that girl killed her she seemed so sweat

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