Examining the rise and death of Selena, the 'Queen of Tejano'

The Mexican-American singer simply known as Selena is immortalized by her songs, her fans, a statue and even a museum.

Last week, she got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But many often ask: Where would she be today if hadn’t been shot and killed by the president of her fan club?

We took a look into the life and tragic death of the Tejano singer more than 22 years after her murder.

Selena Quintanilla-Perez was her full name but everyone knew her as Selena, and more than 20 years after her murder, she’s still an idol for many to this day.

She was a young Chicana star shining so brightly but a scorned employee and one bullet was all it took to bring the fairytale to an end.

Selena was the “Queen of Tejano”.

It was a calling she and her family had begun crafting since she was a little girl.

Little did they know it would prepare her for stardom.

She rose to the top of the Spanish charts.

And on the brink of English crossover, she was shot and killed by the president of her fan club.

Yolanda Saldivar managed Selena’s fan club, and helped run Selena’s business ventures, including a fashion line. And in March 1995, Selena went to a motel to meet with Saldivar to discuss money issues.

Selena was shot.

Yolanda Saldivar says the justice system got it all wrong when she was convicted in the murder.

She didn’t testify during the trial, but in a 20/20 interview she said the shooting was an accident.

Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla met with Saldivar days before the shooting.

“I was going to go to the police to see what we could do to charge her with something,” he said. “She was stealing money.”

Saldivar still denies that detail, saying she loved Selena “like a daughter.”

But was it a mother’s love or a fan’s obsession that drove her to pull the trigger?

 “The rage, the anger at Mr. Quintanilla,” the prosecutor at the trial said, “and there was some revenge also involved.”

That rage took the life of a dancer, a singer, a humble person -- the star with that smile and her endearing imperfections.

But in the eyes of her fans, she was perfect and her fame has only grown since her death.

Selena continues to inspire performers to this day, like Como la Flor, a band we recently interviewed at the Arizona State Fair.

“I always try my best,” said Nira, the band’s lead singer. “I’m representing someone so big, and she’s getting bigger, and she’s not even here with us anymore.”

But in some ways, Selena will always be with her fans.

She just got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Google honored the anniversary of her first album release with a doodle featuring her hit, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.”

Without her here physically, we’ll never know how far she would have gone.

There were never any charges related to stealing money brought against Saldivar but she got a life sentence in prison for murder.

She’ll be available for parole in April of 2025.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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