Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez, known simply as Selena, was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. Her father, Abraham Quintanilla, was a respected Latino musician who performed with a local group called Los Dinos; by the time she was 10, Selena began performing with them. Though English was her native language, Selena sang almost exclusively in Spanish, performing a style of Tex-Mex pop called tejano. After recording and touring throughout the '80s, Selena y Los Dinos came to national attention in 1987 when Selena won Female Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards, bringing her fame in the Latino community. In 1989 Selena and her band were signed to EMI Latin (Capitol in the U.S.), releasing their eponymous debut album the following year.
Over the next few years Selena became the most popular tejano performer around and a major force in Latin music, though still largely unknown among Anglo audiences. Selena's first mainstream exposure came in the 1994 film Don Juan DeMarco, in which she aptly played a singer; later that year she won a Grammy for Amor Prohibido. With record sales booming and an English-language pop album in the works, crossover success seemed imminent. And then tragedy struck: on March 31, 1995 Yolanda Saldivar, the president of Selena's fan club, shot and killed the young singer during a financial dispute. In death, Selena achieved the fame she strove for in life, suddenly coming to international attention after years as a star in the Latino community. The mourned Selena became a sort of Mexican-American
Elvis figure; her records, including the posthumously released English album Dreaming of You, began selling in unprecedented amounts as fans grieved. She was honored at a memorial concert at the Houston Astrodome; a year later, a movie was made about her life. Selena was a star at last.