For many, Selena Quintanilla-Perez—known to fans simply as Selena—embodies the heart and soul of Latin music. A charismatic entertainer with a rich and emotional vocal style, she helped transform and popularize Tejano music by integrating techno-hip-hop beats and disco-influenced dance movements with a captivating stage presence. Her inclusion in the Latin Music Legendsset of commemorative stamps this year speaks to the importance of her role in Mexican-American culture.
Even 16 years after her tragic death, Selena still wins awards for her music. The Billboard Mexican Music Awards last week honored her with the title of “Digital Download Artist of the Year.”
Selena fans are no strangers to posthumous praise for the “Queen of Tejano.” Her album Dreaming of You, which was released shortly after her death in 1995, reached number one on the Billboard 200 that year. In 1999, Billboard Magazine called Selena the “best selling Latin artist of the decade.”
Perhaps one of the most loved Spanish-language singer/songwriters to cross over to English-speaking American audiences, Selena broke down barriers with her enormous success. The effects of her legacy on Latin music in America are certainly still felt today.
Tributes to Selena’s work have included a biographical documentary, a popular film made of her life starring Jennifer Lopez, and a memorial and museum in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, her legacy continues through the work of the Selena Foundation. Based in Corpus Christi, the non-profit organization was established in May 1995 to help children in crisis.