Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the South Texas Mexican-American (Tejano) singer who inspired a generation of pop stars from Beyoncé to Mariah Carey. Tragically, Selena was murdered in 1995 at the age of 23 by the president of her fan club.
During her short career, Selena released five albums (one posthumously) and won the Tejano Music Award for Best Female Vocalist nine times. Many of her singles hit number one on the Billboard Top Latin Songs chart, including "No Me Queda Mas." She was an absolute sensation.
Though she was a Texan, and created the Tejano music most popular in South Texas near the Mexico border, Selena infused her music with a range of Latin sounds. "A range of Latinos really connected with her," Deborah Paredez, author of Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory, told NBC. "She drew from pop, Tejano, calypso, Afro-Caribbean, and cumbia music, so she signaled across a lot of cultural identities."
She was one of the first and most famous Latina pop stars, and she became, for a generation of young Latina girls, the first famous singer who looked like them. As Daniella Cabrera wrote for Bustle on March 31, "She meant that a girl like me could make it; that a girl that spoke broken Spanish, had a big booty and massive, loud family was OK."
It was performances like this one of her song "Baila Esta Cumbia," with its sweeping vocal ranges and high-waisted-pant dancing, that made Selena a superstar.