Selena Quintanilla was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. She was the youngest child of Marcella Ofelia Quintanilla (née Samora) who had Cherokee ancestry and Abraham Quintanilla Jr., a Mexican American former musician. Selena was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. Quintanilla, Jr. noticed her musical abilities when she was six years old. He told People magazine, "Her timing, her pitch were perfect, I could see it from day one". In 1981 in Lake Jackson, Quintanilla, Jr. opened his first Tex-Mex restaurant, Papa Gayo's, where Selena and her siblings Abraham III (on bass guitar) and Suzette Quintanilla (on drums) would often perform. The following year, the restaurant was forced to close after a recession caused by the 1980s oil glut. The family declared bankruptcy and were evicted from their home. They settled in Corpus Christi, Texas; Quintanilla, Jr. became manager of the newly formed band Selena y Los Dinos and began promoting it. They needed the money and played on street corners, weddings, quinceañeras, and fairs.
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (Spanish: [seˈlena kintaˈniʝa ˈpeɾes]; April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995) was an American singer, songwriter, spokesperson, model, actress, and fashion designer. Called the Queen of Tejano music, her contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century. Billboard magazine named her the top-selling Latin artist of the 1990s decade, while her posthumous collaboration with MAC cosmetics became the best-selling celebrity collection in cosmetics history. Media outlets called her the "Tejano Madonna" for her clothing choices. She also ranks among the most influential Latin artists of all time and is credited for catapulting a music genre into the mainstream market.
The youngest child of the Quintanilla family, she debuted on the music scene in 1981 as a member of the band Selena y Los Dinos, which also included her elder siblings A.B. Quintanilla and Suzette Quintanilla. She began recording professionally in 1981. In the 1980s, she was often criticized and was refused bookings at venues across Texas for performing Tejano music—a male-dominated music genre. However, her popularity grew after she won the Tejano Music Award for Female Vocalist of the Year in 1987, which she won nine consecutive times. She signed with EMI Latin in 1989 and released her self-titled debut album the same year, while her brother became her principal music producer and songwriter.
Quintanilla, Jr. refurbished an old bus; he named it "Big Bertha" and the family used it as their tour bus. In the first years of touring, the family sang for food and barely had enough money to pay for gasoline. In 1984, Selena recorded her first LP record, Selena y Los Dinos, for Freddie Records. Despite wanting to record English-language songs, Selena recorded Tejano music compositions; a male-dominated, Spanish-language genre with German influences of polka, jazz, and country music, popularized by Mexicans living in the United States. Quintanilla, Jr. believed Selena should record musical compositions related to her heritage. During the recording sessions for the album, Selena had to learn Spanish phonetically with guidance from her father. In 1985, to promote the album, Selena appeared on the Johnny Canales Show, a popular Spanish-language radio program, on which she continued to appear for several years. Selena was discovered by musician Rick Trevino, founder of the Tejano Music Awards, where she won the Female Vocalist of the Year award in 1987 and for nine consecutive years after. The band was often turned down by Texas music venues because of the members' ages and because Selena was their lead singer. Her father was often told by promoters that Selena would never be successful because she was a woman in a genre historically dominated by men. By 1988, Selena had released five more LP records; Alpha (1986), Munequito de Trapo (1987), And the Winner Is... (1987), Preciosa (1988), and Dulce Amor (1988).
Quintanilla, Jr. sought to maintain Selena's image clean and family-oriented. In 1989, she was offered sponsorship from beer companies but her father turned them down. Selena was often refused gigs at Tejano venues because she was a female singer in a male-dominated music scene. Manuel Peña wrote that after 1989, Selena's popularity increased and she became a sex icon following the release of her debut album. Charles Tatum said Selena drew most attention from her "beauty, sexuality, and youthful impact on the Tejano music scene". Selena said she never wanted to record explicit songs because of her upbringing and because her fan base consisted largely of young children, who regarded her as a role model. She further commented on the question of her sexual appeal to men during her crossover attempt, asserting that she will "stay the same" and that her English-language recordings will refrain from foul language and sexual themes. In 1997, María Celeste Arrarás wrote in her book about Selena's death that the singer was a "sweet and charismatic girl". According to Arrarás, Selena "trusted everyone"; she often went shopping alone, despite her father's concerns over her safety.
Selena released her self-titled debut album on October 17, 1989. The singer recorded most of the songs at AMEN Studios in San Antonio, Texas; "Sukiyaki" and "My Love" were recorded at Sunrise Studios in Houston. Selena wrote "My Love" and wanted the song to be included on the album. Her brother A.B., became Selena's principal record producer and songwriter for most of her musical career, though did not write the tracks "Sukiyaki", "Contigo Quiero Estar", and "No Te Vayas". "Sukiyaki" was originally recorded in Japanese in the 1960s by Kyu Sakamoto; Selena used a translation into Spanish of an English version of the song by Janice Marie Johnson. Selena peaked at number seven on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart, becoming Selena's first recording to debut on a national music chart. The album performed better than other recordings from other contemporaneous female Tejano singers.
Selena released her second studio album, Ven Conmigo, in September 1990. Three tracks from Ven Conmigo were released as singles; "Ya Ves", "La Tracalera", and "Baila Esta Cumbia". The latter, a Tejano cumbia song, became one of Selena's most successful single. Its popularity grew in Mexico, where a compilation album bearing the single's name was released there, which was certified platinum by the Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (AMPROFON), denoting sales of 150,000 units.
A registered nurse and fan named Yolanda Saldívar asked Quintanilla, Jr. to start a fan club in San Antonio. Saldívar had the idea after she had attended one of Selena's concerts. Quintanilla, Jr. approved Saldívar's request; he believed the fan club would bring more exposure for the band. Saldívar soon became a close friend to Selena and the family; she was trusted and became the acting president of the fan club in 1991. That same year, Salvadoran singer Álvaro Torres composed a duet he wanted to record with Selena. The song, "Buenos Amigos", was produced by Enrique Elizondo and was released on Torres' tenth studio album Nada Se Compara Contigo (1991). "Buenos Amigos" peaked at number one on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart, giving Selena her first number-one single. The song's music video earned Selena and Torres two nominations at the 1992 Billboard Music Awards. The track was also nominated for Duo of the Year at the 1992 Tejano Music Awards. Biographer Deborah Parédez wrote that the track enabled Selena to tour the west and east coasts of the United States. According to John Lannert of Billboard magazine, "Buenos Amigos" was helped by increased airplay on regional Mexican and Tejano radio stations, which had previously dismissed Selena's recordings.
Selena's sister Suzette found Selena and Pérez flirting with each other and immediately informed their father. Quintanilla, Jr. took Pérez off the bus and told him his relationship with Selena was over. Selena and Pérez continued their relationship despite Quintanilla, Jr's disapproval; Selena's mother Marcella approved of their relationship. Quintanilla, Jr. saw Selena and Pérez romantically together on the bus after he informed them of his disapproval; he pulled over and an argument between Quintanilla, Jr. and Selena ensued. He called Pérez a "cancer in my family" and threatened to disband the group if they continued their relationship. Selena and Pérez relented; Quintanilla, Jr. fired Pérez from the band and prevented Selena from leaving with him. After his dismissal, Pérez and Selena secretly continued their relationship. On the morning of April 2, 1992, Selena and Pérez decided to elope, believing Quintanilla, Jr. would never approve of their relationship. Selena thought Quintanilla, Jr. would have to accept them if they were married, and would not have to hide their feelings for each other. Within hours of their marriage, the media announced the couple's elopement. Selena's family tried to find her; Quintanilla, Jr. did not take the news well and alienated himself for some time. Selena and Pérez moved into an apartment in Corpus Christi. In interviews, Quintanilla, Jr. expressed how he feared Pérez could be a machista (Spanish for a male chauvinist), who would force Selena to end her career and music goals, a move that prevented Quintanilla, Jr. to accept Pérez as being suitable for Selena at the time. Quintanilla, Jr. later approached Pérez, apologized, accepted the marriage, and took Pérez back into the band.
A month after her elopement, Selena released her third studio album, Entre a Mi Mundo, in May 1992. The album was critically acclaimed as her "breakthrough album". The recording peaked at number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart for eight consecutive months; it was certified 10x platinum by the RIAA for sales of 600,000 album-equivalent units, while in Mexico, the album sold 385,000 units. Entre a Mi Mundo became the first Tejano album by a female artist to sell over 300,000 copies. Selena was booked for a high-profile border press tour in Monterrey, Mexico, with music media types in a meet-and-greet conference. At the time, Tejanos were looked down on as "hayseed pochos" among Mexican citizens. The singer's Spanish was far from fluent; EMI Latin executives were "terrified" about the singer's limited Spanish during the press conference for the album in Mexico. According to Patoski, Selena "played her cards right" during the conference and won over the Mexican media after newspapers hailed her as "an artist of the people". The newspapers found her to be a refreshing change from Mexican telenovela actors "who were fair-skinned, blond-haired, and green-eyed." After her publicity press, Selena was booked to play at several concerts throughout Mexico, including a performance at Festival Acapulco in May 1993, which garnered her critical acclaim. Her performance in Nuevo Leon on September 17, 1993 was attended by 70,000 people, garnering her the title of the biggest Tejano act in Mexico. The album produced four singles; "Como la Flor", "¿Qué Creías?", "La Carcacha", and "Amame". "Como la Flor" became Selena's signature recording; it was critically acclaimed by music critics as a career launcher for Selena. "Como la Flor" helped Selena to dominate the Latin music charts and become immensely popular in Mexico — where Mexican-Americans were generally not liked among citizens — which was well received by critics. The track was nominated for Song of the Year at the 1993 Tejano Music Awards. The single peaked at number six on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart. In 1994, Entre a Mi Mundo ranked as the second best-selling regional Mexican album of all-time.
Aside from music, in 1994 Selena began designing and manufacturing a line of clothing; she opened two boutiques called Selena Etc., one in Corpus Christi and the other in San Antonio. Both were equipped with in-house beauty salons. She was in negotiations to open more stores in Monterrey, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Saldívar managed both boutiques after the Quintanilla family were impressed with the way she managed the fan club. Hispanic Business magazine reported that the singer earned over five million dollars from these boutiques. She was ranked among the twentieth-wealthiest Hispanic musicians who grossed the highest income in 1993 and 1994. Selena released her fourth studio album, Amor Prohibido, in March 1994. The recording debuted at number three on the US Billboard Top Latin Albums chart and number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums charts. After peaking at number one on the Top Latin Albums, the album remained in the top five for the rest of the year and into early 1995. Amor Prohibido became the second Tejano album to reach year-end sales of 500,000 copies, which had previously only been accomplished by La Mafia. It became one of the best-selling Latin albums in the United States. Amor Prohibido spawned four number-one singles; the title track, "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", "No Me Queda Más", and "Fotos y Recuerdos". Amor Prohibido was among the best selling U.S. albums of 1995, and has been certified 36x platinum by the RIAA for sales of 2.16 million album-equivalent units in the United States. The album was named on Tom Moon's list of the 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List (2008).
Selena released Live! a year after Entre a Mi Mundo; it was recorded during a free concert at the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, on February 7, 1993. The album included previously released tracks that were sung live and three studio recordings; "No Debes Jugar", "La Llamada", and "Tú Robaste Mi Corazón" — a duet with Tejano musician Emilio Navaira. The tracks "No Debes Jugar" and "La Llamada" peaked within the top five on the US Billboard Top Latin Songs chart. Live! won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Album at the 36th Grammy Awards. In May 1994, Live! was named Album of the Year by the Billboard Latin Music Awards. At the 1994 Tejano Music Awards, Live! won Album of the Year, while at the 1994 Lo Nuestro Awards, it was nominated for Regional Mexican Album of the Year. Live! was certified gold by the RIAA for shipments of 500,000 copies, while in Mexico it sold 250,000 units. Selena briefly appeared opposite Erik Estrada in a Mexican telenovela titled Dos Mujeres, Un Camino. In 1995 she entered negotiations to star in another telenovela produced by Emilio Larrosa. She appeared in two episodes, which garnered record ratings for the series.
Amor Prohibido popularized Tejano music among a younger and wider audience than at any other time in the genre's history. The two singles, "Amor Prohibido" and "No Me Queda Más", were the most successful US Latin singles of 1994 and 1995, respectively. The album's commercial success led to a Grammy nomination for Best Mexican/American Album at the 37th Grammy Awards in 1995. It won Record of the Year at the 1995 Tejano Music Awards and Regional/Mexican Album of the Year at the 1995 Lo Nuestro Awards. Selena was named "one of Latin music's most successful touring acts" during her Amor Prohibido tour. After Amor Prohibido's release, Selena was considered "bigger than Tejano itself", and broke barriers in the Latin music world. She was called the "Queen of Tejano music" by many media outlets. Billboard magazine ranked Amor Prohibido among the most essential Latin recordings of the past 50 years and included it on its list of the top 100 albums of all-time. In 2017, NPR ranked Amor Prohibido at number 19 on their list of the 150 greatest albums made by women. Sales of the album and its titular single represented Tejano music's first commercial success in Puerto Rico. Selena recorded a duet titled "Donde Quiera Que Estés" with the Barrio Boyzz, which was released on their album of the same name in 1994. The song reached number one on the Top Latin Songs chart, which enabled Selena to tour in New York City, Argentina, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Central America, where she was not well known. In late 1994, EMI chairman Charles Koppelman decided Selena had achieved her goals in the Spanish-speaking market. He wanted to promote her as an English-language solo pop artist. Selena continued touring while EMI began preparing the crossover album, engaging Grammy Award-winning composers. By the time Selena performed to a record-breaking, sold-out concert at the Houston Astrodome in February 1995, work had already begun on her crossover album. In 1995, she made a cameo appearance in Don Juan DeMarco, which starred Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, and Faye Dunaway.
Selena released Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart for eight consecutive months. The album's commercial success led music critics to call it the "breakthrough" recording of her musical career. One of its singles, "Como la Flor", became one of her most popular signature songs. Live! (1993) won Best Mexican/American Album at the 1994 Grammy Awards, becoming the first recording by a female Tejano artist to do so. In 1994, she released Amor Prohibido, which became one of the best-selling Latin albums in the United States. It was critically acclaimed as being responsible for Tejano music's first marketable era as it became one of the most popular Latin music subgenres at the time.
The Quintanilla family appointed Yolanda Saldívar as manager of Selena's boutiques in early 1994. Eight months later, Selena signed Saldívar as her registered agent in San Antonio, Texas. After the agreement, Saldívar moved from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to be closer to Selena. In December 1994, the boutiques began to suffer after the number of staff for both stores had decreased. According to staff members, Saldívar often dismissed employees she disliked. Employees at the stores regularly complained about Saldívar's behavior to Selena, who dismissed the claims, believing Saldívar would not negatively impose erratic decisions on Selena's fashion venture. According to Quintanilla, Jr., the staff later turned their attention to him and began informing him about Saldívar's behavior. Quintanilla, Jr. took the claims seriously; he told Selena to "be careful" and said Saldívar might not be a good influence. Selena dismissed her father's inquiries because he had often distrusted people in the past. By January 1995, Selena's fashion designer Martin Gomez, her cousin Debra Ramirez, and clients had expressed their concerns over Saldívar's behavior and management skills. During an interview with Saldívar in 1995, reporters from The Dallas Morning News said her devotion to Selena bordered on obsession.
In August 1994, Selena hosted a charity baseball game to raise money for unspecified charities. She also donated her time to civic organizations such as D.A.R.E. and planned a fundraising concert to help AIDS patients. Selena participated with the Texas Prevention Partnership which was sponsored by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Dep Corporation), which released an educational video that was sent to students for free. Her pro-education videos included "My Music" and "Selena Agrees". She was in the works for a Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas Boys & Girls Clubs of America benefit concert.
In 1995, Mexican actress Salma Hayek was chosen to play the role of Selena in a biopic film produced by the Quintanilla family and Warner Bros. However, Hayek turned the role down; she said she felt it was "too early" to base a movie on Selena and that it would be emotional because Selena's death was still being covered on U.S. television. Over 21,000 people auditioned for the title role, becoming the second largest audition since the search for Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939). Puerto Rican-American actress Jennifer Lopez replaced Hayek, which initially drew criticism because of Lopez' Puerto-Rican ancestry,but after seeing Lopez' performance, fans changed their views. Gregory Nava directed the film, which was released on March 21, 1997. Selena opened in 1,850 theaters worldwide and grossed $11,615,722, making it the second-highest-grossing film debut that week. With a production budget of $20 million, the film grossed $35 million in the U.S. The film was a commercial and critical success and is often cited by critics as Lopez' breakthrough role. Lopez rose into pop culture, for which the film's success was credited.
In 1995, Selena was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame, the Hard Rock Cafe's Hall of Fame, and the South Texas Music Hall of Fame. In 2001 she was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame. In 2017, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The unveiling ceremony of her star was attended by around 4,500 fans, which was the largest-ever crowd for an unveiling ceremony at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was named one of the 20 most influential Texans of all time by author Laurie Jasinski. She was ranked fifth of the "100 most influential Latin musicians of the 20th century" according to the Orange County Register. The singer has been given many epithets by media outlets, including the "Queen of Latin music", the "Queen of Cumbia", the "Chicana Elvis", the "Queen of hybrid pop culture", the "Hispanic Marilyn Monroe", the "Tupac Shakur of Latin music", the "Corpus Christi queen", and the "people's princess". Media have compared Selena's fashion sense to that of Madonna more times than any other celebrity.
In 1995, the United States Social Security Administration ranked the name Selena one of the 100 most popular names for newborn girls, and namesake Selena Gomez acknowledged Quintanilla's influence. In December 1999, Selena was named the "top Latin artist of the '90s" and "Best selling Latin artist of the decade" by Billboard for her fourteen top-ten singles in the Top Latin Songs chart, including seven number-one hits. She was the best-selling Latin female singer of the 1990s in the U.S. and Mexico. Selena was named "Best Female Vocalist of the '80s" and "Best Female Vocalist of the '90s" at the 2010 Tejano Music Awards.
According to Quintanilla, Jr., in January 1995, he began receiving telephone calls from fans who said they had paid for membership in the Selena fan club and had received nothing in return for it, and he began an investigation. Quintanilla, Jr. discovered that Saldívar had embezzled more than $30,000 via forged checks from both the fan club and the boutiques. Quintanilla, Jr. held a meeting with Selena and Suzette on the night of March 9 at Q-Productions to confront Saldívar. Quintanilla, Jr. presented Saldívar with the inconsistencies about the disappeared funds. Quintanilla, Jr. told her that if she did not provide evidence that disproved his accusations, he would involve the local police. Quintanilla, Jr. banned Saldívar from having any contact with Selena. However, Selena did not want to dissolve their friendship; she thought Saldívar was essential to the success of the clothing line in Mexico. Selena also wanted to keep her close because she had bank records, statements, and financial records necessary for tax preparation.
In January 1995, Selena headlined the Teach the Children festival in San Antonio. The concert funded a non-profit program to provide school supplies to needy children. Selena was a spokesperson for women in abusive relationships. She also helped out at homeless shelters. According to the A&E television series Biography, Selena's fans were often minorities; she encouraged them to make the most of their lives.
In the days before Selena's death, Saldívar delayed handing over the bank statements and financial records by saying she had been physically and sexually assaulted in Mexico. Saldívar, along with Selena, appeared at a medical clinic on March 31, 1995, ostensibly to have Saldívar examined for an assault which she claimed happened to her in Monterrey. During that visit, Saldívar was given a brief physical examination by the clinic's doctor, but this did not include a gynecological exam specifically done in cases of sexual assault. It was suggested by nurse Carla Anthony that Saldívar needed to have the rape exam in San Antonio for three reasons: Saldívar was a resident of San Antonio, the clinic they were currently at was in Corpus Christi, and the assault occurred in Mexico. Afterward, Selena again met with Saldívar in her hotel room at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi. At the hotel, Selena demanded the financial papers. At 11:48 a.m. (CST), Saldívar got a gun from her purse and pointed it at Selena. As Selena attempted to flee, Saldívar shot her once on the right lower shoulder, severing an artery and causing a severe loss of blood. Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby, leaving a 392-foot (119 m)-long trail of blood. She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called the emergency services, with Saldívar still chasing after her and calling her a "bitch". Before collapsing, Selena named Saldívar as her assailant and gave the number of the room where she had been shot. Meanwhile, Saldívar attempted to leave in her pickup truck. She was, however, spotted by a responding police cruiser. She surrendered after a nearly nine-and-a-half-hour standoff with police and the FBI. By that time, hundreds of fans had gathered at the scene; many wept as police took Saldívar away.
On March 31, 1995, she was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldívar, her friend and former manager of her Selena Etc. boutiques. Saldívar was cornered by police when she attempted to flee, and threatened to kill herself, but was convinced to give herself up and was sentenced to life in prison with possible parole after 30 years. Two weeks later, future US President George W. Bush—governor of Texas at the time—declared Selena's birthday Selena Day in Texas. Her posthumous crossover album, Dreaming of You (1995), debuted atop the Billboard 200, making Selena the first Latin artist to do this feat. In 1997, Warner Bros. released Selena, a film about her life and career, which starred Jennifer Lopez as Selena and Lupe Ontiveros as Saldívar. As of 2016 , Selena has sold 60-65 million albums worldwide, making her one of the best-selling female artists in Latin music history.
Selena's vocal range was soprano. In an April 1995 interview with Billboard magazine, Behar said he saw Selena as a "cross between Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston in style, feel, and vocal range". Although Selena did not write most of her songs, she incorporated R&B, Latin pop, technopop, country and western, and disco into her Tejano music repertoire. Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News said that during her music career, Selena "merges Tejano's infectious cumbia rhythm with street-savvy R&B, old-school soul, dancehall reggae, sizzling salsa, and trippy, loopy funk". Selena's recordings expressed "love and pain, as well as strength and passion", according to Charles Tatum. She also recorded independently driven, female-empowerment-themed compositions; "Si La Quieres", "¿Qué Creías?", "Ya Ves" and "Ya No", which centered around inappropriate relationships and recovery from domestic violence. Peter Watrous of The New York Times said Selena's voice "sometimes quivered", and that she "roughed it up a bit". He continued, "[a]t its best, it had a coolness, a type of unadorned passion". Ilan Stavans called her music "cursi-melodramatic, cheesy, overemotional, not too far from Juan Gabriel and a relative of Iglesias". Richard Corliss of Time magazine said her songs "are perky, cheerful rather than soulful", and that earlier recordings, "with their tinny, Tijuana Brass charts, and keyboards that evoke calliopes are ideal for the fairground or merry-go-round". Corliss calls Selena's singing an "expert mimicry of everything from Édith Piaf's melodramatic contralto to the coloratura riffs of Mariah Carey. But the sounds are still lightly Hispanic."
On April 3, 1995, six hundred guests—mostly family members—attended Selena's burial at Seaside Memorial Park in Corpus Christi, Texas, which was broadcast live by a Corpus Christi and San Antonio radio station without the consent of her family. A Jehovah's Witness minister from Lake Jackson preached in English, quoting Paul the Apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 15. Hundreds of people began circling the area in their vehicles. Among the celebrities who attended Selena's funeral were Roberto Pulido, Bobby Pulido, David Lee Garza, Navaira, Laura Canales, Elsa Garcia, La Mafia, Ram Herrera, Imagen Latina, and Pete Astudillo. A special mass held the same day at Los Angeles Sports Arena drew a crowd of 4,000.
On April 12, 1995, two weeks after Selena's death, George W. Bush, governor of Texas at the time, declared her birthday, April 16, Selena Day in the state. He said Selena represented "the essence of south Texas culture." Some European Americans in Texas wrote to the editor of the Brazosport Facts during April and May, asking what the big deal was; some were offended that Selena Day fell on Easter. Others said, "Easter is more important than Selena Day", and that they believed people should let Selena rest in peace and continue with their lives. Mexican Americans in Texas wrote vociferously to the newspaper. Some said others were too critical of Selena Day, and should not have responded so rudely.
Dreaming of You, the crossover album Selena had been working on at the time of her death, was released in July 1995. It sold 175,000 copies on the day of its release in the U.S. — a then-record for a female vocalist — and sold 331,000 copies its first week. Selena became the third female artist to sell over 300,000 units in one week, after Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first album by a Hispanic artist to do so. Dreaming of You helped Selena to become the first solo artist to debut a posthumous album at number one. Dreaming of You joined five of Selena's studio albums on the Billboard 200 chart simultaneously, making Selena the first female artist in Billboard history to do so. The album was certified 59× platinum (Latin field), for sales of 3.54 million album-equivalent units in the U.S. alone. As of 2017 it has sold over 2.942 million copies in the U.S. making it the best-selling Latin album of all-time in the country according to Nielsen SoundScan. As of 2015 , the recording has sold five million copies worldwide. In 2008, Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle said its lead single, "I Could Fall in Love", had "made the Tejano goddess a posthumous crossover star". Her death was believed to have sparked an interest in Latin music by people who were unaware of its existence. It was also believed her death "open[ed] the doors" to other Latin musicians such as Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, and Shakira.
In October 1995, a Houston jury convicted Saldívar of first-degree murder and sentenced her to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years in 2025. Life with the possibility of parole was the maximum prison term allowed in Texas that could be imposed at the time. In 2002, under a judge's order, the gun used to kill Selena was destroyed and the pieces were thrown into Corpus Christi Bay. Fans and historians disapproved of the decision to destroy the gun, saying the event was historical and the gun should have been in a museum.
In the months following her death, several honors and tributes were erected. Several proposals were made, such as renaming streets, public parks, food products, and auditoriums. Two months later, a tribute was held at the 1995 Lo Nuestro Awards. The Spirit of Hope Award was created in Selena's honor in 1996; it was awarded to Latin artists who participated in humanitarian and civic causes. On March 16, 2011, the United States Postal Service released a "Latin Legends" memorial stamp to honor Selena, Carlos Gardel, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and Carmen Miranda. In February 2014, the Albany, NY Times Union named her one of "100 Coolest Americans in History". In 1998 Selena was commemorated with a museum.
Mirador de La Flor (English: Lookout of the Flower) also known as Selena's seawall, is Selena's own life-size bronze statue monument in Corpus Christi, Texas, sculpted by H.W. "Buddy" Tatum and unveiled in 1997. About 30,000 people from around the world visit this monument every year. Selena's monument attracts thousands of visitors every year." While the monument has remained a popular tourist attraction, the construction of the statue was met with some resistance from the local community. Dusty Durrill a local philanthropist financed the construction of the monument with support from local community leaders. "Corpus Christi like other Texas cities attempted to build its civic identity and tourist industry on the narrative promotion of a Spanish- explorer- meets Anglo- cowboy past." Selena's statue has drawn visitors from all over the world that wish to mourn the star's passing. Fans flock to the monument to share memories of the star and offer condolences for the Queen of Tejano.
In 1999, a Broadway-bound musical titled Selena was scheduled to premiere in San Antonio in March 2000 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her murder. Broadway producers Tom Quinn, Jerry Frankel, Peter Fitzgerald, and Michael Vega staged the musical, and Edward Gallardo wrote the show's book and lyrics. Fernando Rivas composed the show's songs. In 2000, Selena Forever was first produced; the show embarked on a 30-city U.S. tour with a budget of over US$2 million. After a national casting call, producers chose Veronica Vasquez to portray Selena; Vasquez alternated in the role with Rebecca Valdez. The musical previewed on March 21, and opened on March 23 at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.
Selena's family and her former band, Los Dinos, held a tribute concert on April 7, 2005, a week after the 10th anniversary of her murder. The concert, titled Selena ¡VIVE!, was broadcast live on Univision and achieved a 35.9 household rating. It was the highest-rated and most-viewed Spanish-language television special in the history of American television. The special was also the number-one program in any language among adults ages 18 to 34 in Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco; it tied for first in New York, beating that night's episode of Fox's reality show American Idol. Among Hispanic viewers, Selena ¡VIVE! outperformed Super Bowl XLV and the telenovela Soy tu dueña during the "most-watched NFL season ever among Hispanics".
Selena has been named one of the most influential Latin artists of all-time and has been credited for elevating a music genre into the mainstream market. Latin Post called the singer "one of the most iconic artists in Latin American music history", while The New York Times called her "arguably the most important Latina musician in the country, on her way to becoming one of the most important, period." Selena became a household name in the United States and Mexico following her death and became part of the American pop culture. She became more popular in death than when she was alive. After her death, her popularity among the Hispanic population was compared to those of Marilyn Monroe and Madonna in Anglo-American culture. According to author Carlota Caulfield, Selena was "one of the most popular Latina singers of the 1990s". Selena's popularity was drawn in by the LGBT community and minority groups in the United States. The popularity of Tejano music waned after her death and has not recovered. John Lannert of Billboard said in an interview with Biography in 2007 that when Selena died the "Tejano market died with her".
In January 2015, it was announced that a two-day annual event called Fiesta de la Flor would be held in Corpus Christi for Selena by the Corpus Christi Visitors Bureau. Musical acts for the first annual event included Kumbia All-Starz, Chris Pérez, Los Lobos, Jay Perez, Little Joe y la Familia, Los Palominos, Stefani Montiel of Las 3 Divas, Girl in a Coma's Nina Diaz, Las Fenix, and The Voice competitor Clarissa Serna. The event raised $13 million with an attendance of 52,000 people with 72% of whom lived outside of Corpus Christi. The event sparked interest from people in 35 states and five different countries including Mexico, Brazil, and Ecuador.
On August 30, 2016, a wax figure of Selena was unveiled at Madame Tussauds Hollywood. In October 2016, MAC Cosmetics released a limited edition Selena makeup line after On Air with Ryan Seacrest senior producer Patty Rodriguez started a petition for the company to do so and it garnering over 37,000 signatures. It became the best-selling celebrity line in cosmetic history. She was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame at Texas Woman's University in October 2016. An exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. that ran in 2017, focused on Selena's influence in marketing. "Due to her massive appeal to both general and Latino markets, advertisers began targeting specific demographics for the first time."
Google honored Selena on October 17, 2017, with a musical doodle of her life. On December 11, 2018, it was announced that a biographical television series based on Selena's life called Selena: The Series is scheduled to be aired on Netflix in 2020. Actress Christian Serratos is leading the main role as Selena, which was shown in a teaser trailer in late 2019. The two-part series is being done with the participation of the Quintanilla family. Forever 21 announced the launch of a clothing line celebrating her legacy named “Selena: The White Rose Collection,” was released in 2019.