Today we celebrate Selena Quintanilla: Mexican-American music & entertainment icon, fashion trendsetter, passionate entrepreneur, community philanthropist, and one of the people who taught me growing up that no matter who you are or where you come from, anything is possible.
Born in Lake Jackson, Texas on April 16, 1971, Selena’s talent shone from an early age. Strumming Nat King Cole’s “I’m in the Mood for Love” on guitar, Selena’s Father listened to his daughter sing along, and immediately knew the bright future before her.
With encouragement from their father, nine year old Selena and her older siblings A.B. (guitar) and Suzette (drums) formed the beginnings of the Tejano sensation Selena y Los Dinos. Born in Texas, Tejano music (or “Tex-Mex”) blends Mexican and American sub-genres like pop, polka, ranchera, and cumbia. Widely popular across the TX/Mexico border since the 1800s, Selena y Los Dinos’ infectious brand of Tejano music popularized the genre to audiences globally.
First playing at the family restaurant, quiceañeras, and fairs, the band’s humble beginnings - including sitting on equipment due to the lack of formal seating in their inaugural tour bus “Big Bertha - eventually led to high profile touring. But they also fought through hard times and adversity. In fact, Selena was frequently discriminated against in the male-dominated music genre, and some venues even refused to book the band for shows.
Despite all this, Selena’s talent, energy, and perseverance easily won the hearts of a rapidly growing fan base. In 1986 she was awarded the Tejano Music award for “Female Vocalist of the Year,” catapulting Selena y los Dinos to Tejano stardom. Other milestones followed, solidifying Selena’s legacy as “The Queen of Tejano.” She released her first studio album with Capitol EMI (self-titled “Selena”) on this day in 1989, consistently straddled the top of the billboard charts, and won a Grammy for best Mexican/American album of 1993 -- the first female and youngest Tejano artist to win the award.
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