Twice-Told Tale

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Twice-Told Tale

Twice-Told Tale

Younger Audiences Discover Queen of Tejano

Serena Young
(Above) At 28 years old, the famous Jennifer Lopez got her big break. She landed a role as Selena in the Selena movie. This movie won JLO her first award; she received a Best Actress award at the Golden Globe Awards. Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, contacted the director of the movie, Gregory Nava, to make a movie about Selena’s life.

A world without Selena Quintanilla is a world without taste. Often called the “Queen of Tejano,” her career began at the young age of eight. Since she was just a little girl, Quintanilla started winning people over by performing at her father’s restaurant, Pappagallo, in their hometown of Lake Jackson, Texas. Not only did her father, Abraham Quintanilla, provide her with a place to perform, but the former musician taught Selena to sing in Spanish, and Selena’s siblings, AB Quintanilla and Suzette Quintanilla, to play various instruments. Together, the siblings would perform all across Lake Jackson, calling themselves, Selena y los Dinos, inspired by their father’s band, Los Dinos. Ever since then, Quintanilla has become an icon all over the world. However, her life and career were tragically cut short when she was only 23, leaving fans wondering, how does Selena’s music captivate so many people to this day, despite her short-lived career? 

Selena was born on April 16, 1971, in Lake Jackson, Texas to Abraham and Marcella Quintanilla, who were both born and raised in Mexico. They had three children together: AB, Suzette, and Selena, the youngest of the family. Selena’s father would often teach his children how to sing and play instruments so he could try to pass on his love for music to his family. He soon discovered Selena’s talented voice and started letting her perform at the family’s restaurant, Pappagallo. Soon after the restaurant closed, Selena became one of the family’s breadwinners. To help make ends meet, as well as pursue her musical career, Selena and her family started touring on their bus named “Big Bertha,” and performed at any gig they could find. Due to this, Selena dropped out of school in eighth grade, but she later earned a high school diploma through correspondence studies at the age of 17 and went on to graduate college with a degree in business administration.

Selena’s brother, AB, played a big part in her career as he wrote some of Selena’s most famous songs, such as “Como La Flor”. However, he had an equally as important role in Selena’s personal life.  After looking for a new guitarist for Selena y Los Dinos, he hired Chris Perez in 1990. Selena and Chris fell in love very quickly. One day in a Pizza Hut, Perez confessed his feelings to the rising star, and they decided to pursue an exclusive romance without telling her father. Even though Selena’s father opposed the relationship, Selena and Chris married secretly in 1992, when she was 20 years old. 

Soon after Selena got married, she became very popular as her music began appearing on the radio. Her first song to hit the radio, “Como La Flor,” was a huge success and still is today. This song started her worldwide fame, which led to her releasing more and more music. She started performing in what she called the “Astrodome” in Houston, Texas. This was her stage where she would have thousands of fans to watch her performances and new songs. As time passed she became so popular that she got invited to the Grammys. She had been nominated for the Best Mexican American Singer and won. After she had received her Grammy, she followed one of her lifelong dreams, using her college degree, and opened her boutique where she designed her clothing line. After opening her boutique, she met one of her biggest fans: a woman who had quit her job to start a Selena fan club, Yolanda Saldivar. Yolanda and Selena soon become close, best friends even, and Yolanda eventually became the head manager of Selena’s boutiques.

After Yolanda began to run the boutiques, Selena and her father begin to discover that something was not right. They soon found out that Yolanda was embezzling money from Selena’s boutiques. Selena decided to confront Yolando about the embezzled money, agreeing to meet at a motel.

As tensions rose, Yolanda and Selena got into a huge argument about the stolen money, and Yolanda started to get violent towards Selena. Much to  Selena’s surprise, Yolando pulled out a gun from her purse and attempted to run out of the motel. However, Yolanda shot Selena in the back of her shoulder. Selena managed to run to the lobby where the ambulance is called. 

Although Selena was rushed to the emergency room, unfortunately, the hospital wasn’t able to help Selena recover from her wound, and she passed away on March 31, 1995, at the age of 23.  

Therefore, despite her short-lived career, it is clear that Selena’s legacy continues, as demonstrated by productions that depict her life. For example, both the movie, Selena, starring Jeniffer Lopez, and the TV show, Selena: The Series, starring Christian Serratos illustrate how the singer’s rise to fame, as well as her unforgettably effervescent personality. Both these depictions are produced by Selena’s father, Abraham, and therefore are opportunities for her music to live on, and her memory to be honored. 

(Above) Although Selena tragically passed away almost 30 years ago, she still has a very strong hold on her fans, including new fans she gained even after she passed. She gained even more fans after the release of the Netflix series Selena. The show won Best Primetime Program in 2022 and was nominated for Best Music Supervision for Film or TV. (Sofia Cohen)
(Above) Even though Selena released her last song in 1995, Selena still has an astonishing 23.5 million monthly listeners. Selena mostly released music in Spanish, however, her 1995 album had several songs in English. Which allowed her to connect with everyone, not just Spanish speakers. (Sofia Cohen)
(Above) Selena was only 20 when her career blew up. By the age of 23, she sold over 18 million records worldwide. She was named the top-selling Latin artist of the 1990s in the US by Billboard magazine. Her songs are still considered Latin classics by people all over the world. (Sofia Cohen)
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About the Contributors
Sofia Cohen
Sofia Cohen, Copy Editor
Sofia Cohen is a student at Lake Highland Preparatory School in grade 10. Her favorite subjects in school are English and History. Her favorite part about school is being on a beautiful campus surrounded by amazing friends and teachers. When she is not in school, she enjoys reading, writing, listening to music all sorts of music (mostly Taylor Swift), watching movies, playing soccer, shopping, and spending time with friends and family. Her favorite time of the year is summer, and she can't wait to be on the beach again!
Serena Young
Serena Young, Director of Photography
Serena Young is the Director of Photography of Lake Highland Preparatory School's Upper School newspaper Twice-Told Tale, a publication ranked first in the nation by American Scholastic Press Association. Young is the Co-founder of Athena Sisterhood, a community of over 1.6k women, and was a teen speaker at the Global Youth Mindset Summit. She has traveled to 30+ countries, volunteered over 1,500 hours of community service, and has 7M+ views on Google Reviews. Young started her personal development journey at the age of seven and has attended Tony Robbins's Unleash your Power Within, Global Youth Leadership, Business MasteryLeadership Academy, and Date With Destiny. When not taking a good nap, Young enjoys gourmet food, running long distance, watching award winning movies, and spending quality time with family and friends.

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