Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)
Texas-born musical sensation Selena Quintanilla Pérez (1971-1995), known singularly as Selena, began performing professionally at the age of nine. Powered by her father’s musical dreams, Selena and her two older siblings formed the band Selena y Los Dinos. At the age of six, Selena forced her way into the band when her dad wouldn’t teach her an instrument, singing until he recognized her irrepressible talent. Touring relentlessly with the whole family, playing on street corners, weddings, and at restaurants, making barely enough money to buy gas, Selena soon became a star in the Tejano music world, winning the Tejano Music Award for Best Female Vocalist nine times.
She went from being a solely English-speaking, unknown female Mexican-American singer, denied access to venues in a male-dominated field, to the genre’s first mainstream crossover superstar. Her album, Ven Conmigo, was the first Tejano album to reach gold status in 1990; four years later, she became the first Tejano musician to win a Grammy. Performing in sequined bustiers that she designed, Selena also became a fashion icon and role model to Mexican- American youth. At twenty-one, she rebelled against her father and followed her heart, eloping with her guitarist, Chris Pérez. Selena achieved her dream of mainstream success, with her album Dreaming of You breaking the record for fastest-selling album by a female artist at the time of its release. But sadly, she was not there to see it. Her greatest strengths—her warmth and accessibility—became her greatest liabilities when she was murdered by her fan club president. Selena’s influence shone a spotlight on Latino Americans in the twenty-first century, and her breakthrough legacy lives on.