The singer died at age 22 in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Sept. 7, 1995. She had been shot dead by her boyfriend, Yolanda Saldívar, who was later convicted of murder. The tragedy sparked intense media coverage and public interest. Her posthumous album “Dreaming of You,” went platinum within weeks of its release in 1996. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
Life and career
Selena Quintanilla was raised in Seguin, Texas. At age 10, she moved to Corpus Christi, where she attended Southside Elementary School. When she was 11, her family relocated to San Antonio, where she attended John Jay High School, graduating in 1989.
During high school, Selena became involved in music. She performed in local bands and sang lead vocals in several cover groups. In 1986, Selena formed the group Los Dinos de Nuevo León, which was signed to Warner Bros. Records. The band recorded three albums, including one produced by David Foster. After the release of their debut album, “Los Dinos,” in 1987, the group disbanded.
In 1988, Selena met Chris Pérez while attending a concert. They married later that year. During the next few months, Selena auditioned for American Idol. She did not make it into the show’s Top 12 contestants, but she won over fans with her rendition of “La Bamba.”
After the success of her single, Selena was invited to perform at the Tejano Music Awards. She accepted the invitation and went on tour in Mexico. While touring, Selena befriended producer A.B. Quintanilla, who was working on his daughter Suzette’s album. He asked her to sing backup vocals on some tracks. Selena agreed and soon after joined him in recording the album, entitled “Dreaming of You.”
The album contained the hit singles “Como La Flor,” “Y Yo Sigo Aquí” and “Si Una Vez Más,” among others. By 1990, Selena had become a major star in Latin America.
In 1991, Selena and A.B. divorced due to irreconcilable differences. Shortly thereafter, Selena married Abraham Quintanilla III. Together, they founded Selena y Los Dinos de Noreña, Inc., a record label.
While making her second studio album, Selena worked alongside producers such as Raul Rekow, Emilio Estefan Jr. and Juan Carlos Calderon. Selena’s third album, “Entre a Mi Mundo” (“Between My World”), was released in 1993. The album sold over 2 million copies worldwide and spawned four hit singles: “No Me Quedaras Solo”, “Quiero Decirte Algo”, “I Could Fall in Love” and “Hasta Que Salga el Sol”.
1989–1991: Selena, Ven Conmigo, and relationship with Chris Pérez
José Behar of newly formed record label EMI Latin Records watched Selena perform at Tejano Music Awards in San Antonio, Texas, in 1989. He was searching for new Latin artists and wanted to sign Selenita to his label, Capitol Records. But Sony Music Latin president Steve Fargnoli offered Selena Quintanilla Jr., better terms. Twice Capitol’s signing fee. Twice Behar thought he had found the next big thing. And once again, it turned out to be wrong.
Before Selena began recording for the debut album she had been working on, Behar and Stephen Fernger asked her to record some English songs. They felt that Selena could cross over into the pop market and make money off her music. She recorded three English-speaking compositions for the heads of the pop division at EMI.
Selena’s mother, Amparo, was against the idea of her daughter singing in English, but she eventually relented. In fact, she encouraged her daughter to do it because she believed it would help her career. While Selena did sing in English on her debut album, she sang mostly Spanish tracks on her albums that followed.
1992–1993: Elopement, Entre a Mi Mundo, and Selena Live
Selena’s father had been trying to break up Selena and her boyfriend since he found out about it. He was even ready to kick both of them out of the house. But Selena didn’t want to give up on Pérez. She knew how much he loved her and she wanted to be with him no matter what. So she convinced her dad to let her go with Pérez.
On the night of April 2, 1992, Selena went to meet Pérez at his home. When she arrived, she saw that her ex-boyfriend was already there with another woman. Selena got upset and left without saying goodbye to Pérez.
The next day, Selena’s mother called Pérez and asked him why he’d lied to Selena about being married. Pérez denied knowing anything about the marriage. Then Selena’s mom showed up at his door and demanded to know where Selena was. Pérez told her that Selena had gone to Mexico City to work on some music videos. Selena’s mom believed him and thought nothing of it.
A few days later, Selena came home to find her family gathered around her bed. Her parents accused her of running away because they couldn’t stand seeing her happy. They told her that she had ruined her life and that she could never sing again. Selena cried and begged them to forgive her. Then she ran into her room and locked the door.
After a while, Selena opened the door and apologized to everyone. Everyone forgave her except for her father. He wouldn’t accept her apology and reminded her that she broke her promise to him. At that moment, Selena realized that she couldn’t live without Pérez. She packed her bags and left home.
In 1993, Selena moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, to pursue a career in singing. She soon met her manager, A&R director Emilio Navaira, who helped her land a recording contract with EMI Latin Records. In 1994, Selena recorded her debut album, Entre a Mi Músculo, which sold one million copies worldwide.
In February 1995, the Mexican press reported that Selena’s murder was linked to the discovery of evidence implicating Saldívar in the embezzlement scheme. On February 24, 1995, the Los Angeles Times reported that Saldívar was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, and charged with three counts of theft. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years’ probation.
On April 1, 1995, Selena Quintanilla-Perez died in front of thousands of people at the age of 22. She had been shot dead by Yolanda Saldívar, a former friend, while she was performing onstage in Corpus Christi, TX. After the shooting, Saldívar fled the scene and returned home where she changed into different clothes and went out again. She took off her bloody clothing, put on clean ones and went to work. When the police arrived, she told them that she heard shots and saw someone running away. Later, she confessed that she killed Selena because she was afraid that Selena’s boyfriend, Chris Pérez, would kill her.
After her arrest, Saldívar claimed that she did not remember anything about the murder. However, she later admitted that she remembered everything and even described how she committed the crime. In court, Saldívar pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She received five years probation and $2,500 fine.
Selena’s funeral was attended by over three thousand mourners. Her mother found comfort in the fact that her daughter’s death helped raise awareness about violence against women.