Selena Quintanilla and the Legacy She Left Behind

Twenty-one years after her death, Queen of Tejano, Selena Quintanilla-Perez, remains a household name. The Texas-native continues to inspire fans — fans who were not even born during her lifetime. Recently, Selena was makeup line, Mac’s, latest celebrity collaboration after a petition to have a collection in her name garnered over 37 thousand signatures. The collection, which sold out within 24 hours, is the perfect example of how Selena continues to inspire generation after generation.

My own Selena story begins as a little girl. My parents, who were huge fans of Selena, played her music throughout the house as my older sister and I sang along to “Como la Flor” and attempted our best washing machine dance move. Her music, specifically “Baila Esta Cumbia”, was the anthem to every family party and quinceañera we attended. We may not have understood the lyrics she was singing, but her music translated love and hope.

My grandpa, who is arguably her biggest fan, often tells me the story of attending her last concert in our hometown of Bryan, Texas. People commonly mistake her last concert for being at the Astrodome in Houston, when it was actually in Bryan. He pulls out the photos he took of her that night — photos our family will treasure forever. He has given me a watch with her face on it, a backpack with her name on it, and my grandma has given me multiple t-shirts from her concerts.

A cousin of mine played the drums in her band early on in her career, and with family who lives near Selena’s hometown of Corpus Christi, we have visited her museum, walked along the boardwalk where her memorial statue is and met her family. Coming from a musical family, her music has always resonated with us. Even at 22 years old, I still see myself in her — a girl who wants to be understood and be an example to her fellow Latinas.

Selena has always been someone I have looked up to. Not only am I captivated by her music, it was her love for people that stood out to me. To her fans and to the world, she was more than just a singer, she was a humanitarian. An activist for education, she encouraged her young fans to stay in school and follow their dreams. A role-model and voice for the U.S. Latino community, she has helped me and other non-Spanish Latinas understand that our culture is not defined by our language.

There was so much hope for her as she crossed over from primarily singing in Spanish to singing in English. Her crossover album, Dreaming of You, became an instant hit. The 1997 biopic about her life brings new fans each time it is played on television. Her music and style continues to influence celebrities like Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry.

Earlier this summer, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame Selection Committee announced that Selena would be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017. For Selena to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or to be given a makeup collection in her name is an honor, but to receive such honors 21 years after her death is a testament to her legacy. Her life was cut way too short, but the impact she made in her 23 years is enough to last forever.

Leave a Reply