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Lone Star Legends: Unit 9

CHAPTER 30

Singer

Section 1 The Many Cultures of Texas

Pupil's Edition, p. 619

30.1A

Selena Quintanilla Perez

Selena (1971­1995) was a popular singer of Tejano music who was murdered at the age of 23.

S

elena Quintanilla Perez, known to millions of fans as Selena, was born April 16, 1971, in Lake Jackson, Texas. When her father heard her sing at age six, he knew Selena would be a star. Selena first sang in public at her father's restaurant, with her brother and sister as members of her band. Financial problems forced the family to close the restaurant and give up their home. Amazingly, it was Selena's talent that would save them. Takes Family Band on the Road While the rest of the family moved to Corpus Christi, Selena and her brother and sister hit the road, performing at weddings and in small nightclubs throughout South Texas. In 1979 eight-year-old Selena recorded her first tune, a country song sung in Spanish. Her Tejano band was in full swing by 1980. In 1987 Selena won the Tejano Music Award for best female vocalist and another for performer of the year. Two years later, the Latin division of the EMI Records Group signed her band to a record deal. By the time she was 19, Selena was a millionaire. Learns Spanish Selena could not speak Spanish and learned the Spanish lyrics for her songs phonetically. She began taking Spanish lessons in the early 1990s so that she could project a more genuine Latina image during interviews on Spanish-language radio. Hires Fan Club President One day a woman named Yolanda Saldivar, an aunt of one of Selena's childhood friends, expressed interest in creating a fan club for Selena. Selena agreed, and in just four years the club attracted 9,000 members. Selena and Saldivar developed a close friendship. Although Saldivar did not receive an official salary, Selena often gave her gifts. Saldivar returned the favor by transforming her apartment into a shrine to Selena, decorating it with Selena photos and trinkets, including a life-size cardboard figure of the singer. Wins Grammy In 1993 Selena Live earned a Grammy Award for best Mexican American album. By 1995 her albums had sold three million copies. She continued to receive honors, including awards for song of the year, best female entertainer, best female vocalist,

album of the year, best Tejano crossover song, and record of the year. In 1994 Selena hired Saldivar as head of Selena, Etc., a company that managed two Selena-based salons and marketed a line of Selena fashions. But things began falling apart. Fashion designer Martin Gomez quit, claiming that he could not work with Saldivar. Reports later came that Saldivar was misusing funds. Fan Club Problems Arise Meanwhile, fans were not receiving T-shirts and other Selena items they had paid for, and money began to disappear from one of the salons. Selena and her father confronted Saldivar, who claimed that she could prove her innocence. However, the next day she could not produce such evidence. The next morning, March 31, 1995, Selena went to Saldivar's motel room to talk with her. Saldivar met Selena at the door of her motel room with a gun and shot the singer in the back and shoulder. Selena died a few hours later at the age of 23. Saldivar was arrested for the crime. Her Fans Mourn Before her funeral, 1,500 mourners attended a vigil for Selena Quintanilla Perez. Ten thousand people came to Corpus Christi to pay their respects to the beloved singer. Mourners also gathered in Los Angeles and San Antonio, the capital of Tejano music.

Copyright © Lone Star Publishing J. V.

Review Questions

1. Where did Selena first perform in public? 2. How did Selena die?

Critical Thinking

3. Making Inferences Do you think that Selena knew what the lyrics to her first record meant? Explain. 4. Analyzing What details show that Saldivar was causing trouble for Selena?

Texas at the End of the Twentieth Century 107

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