In her nearly 24 years of life, Selena Quintanilla built a legacy that is still going strong two decades after her death. In 1995, Selena’s life was cut short after she was shot by fan club president Yolanda Saldívar. But because of the strength of her music and a little help from the Jennifer Lopez-led Selena biopic, new and old generations of fans have made Selena one of the most important figures in the Latino community.
So much so, that the pioneering Tex-Mex singer continues to feel as relevant today as she was in the early 90s. It’s not just her forward-thinking sound (which, by the way, changed the music game – one only has to listen to “Techno Cumbia” to hear her imprint on the nu-cumbia sounds that are popping off everywhere from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles today.)
And it wasn’t just how she redefined standards of beauty and style with her singular look – though she can be credited with providing an alternative to the Anglo beauty norms that dominated in the 90s, putting morenas with curves in the spotlight long before J Lo or Kim.
Though we will always remember her for those things, there was something else about Selena. For young Latinos, Selena was the first affirmation of our identity in pop culture. Here was a down-home girl who could sing in Spanish and in English, who could be accepted by U.S. Latinos, mainstream Anglo audiences, and Latin Americans alike.
This year, the Selena love – perhaps heightened by the 20th anniversary of her death – did not waver. Here is why 2015 was the Year of Selena.
She got her own annual festival, Fiesta de la Flor (aka Selena-Con)
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Selena’s death, the Quintanillas celebrated her life with a big party. The Fiesta de la Flor – a two-day festival in the land of Selena aka Corpus Christi – was bigger than Coachella (well, at least for us). Drawing crowds of 50,000 from all over the country/world, it became perhaps the nation’s largest gathering of glittery bustiers. Plus it made a case for the yet to be invented Selena-Con, which needs to become a thing immediately. Check out our coverage of Fiesta de la Flor pics here.
And will be the subject of a next-level "Hologram"-like tech called an "Acrovirt"
This one is more on the controversial side, but this year, the Quintanillas announced that a Selena hologram – or something like it called an Acrovirt – was forthcoming. Naturally, it will be called “Selena the One,” (no shade to Selena Gomez, but you’re forever #2.) “An Acrovirt is a voice, a body and predictive mind that will allow the artist to sing her old songs and new songs,” according to Selena The One representative Abelardo Rodriguez. OK, so the “predictive mind” thing is pretty creepy, but the point for the “hologram” is to allow fans to see her perform.
She's getting her own M.A.C Line
With her penchant for red lipstick, Selena would have been a Ruby Woo kind of girl. Looking back at photos of her, it’s hard to find one where she isn’t wearing red lipstick, and as a result, her microphones always wound up tinted red.
This year, Patty Rodriguez petitioned M.A.C. for a Selena-inspired makeup line. Five months and ~38,000 signatures later, M.A.C. announced they would be making fan girl dreams come true. Rodriguez had been trying to get M.A.C. to start a Selena makeup line for years, but 2015 was the year they finally listened.
Jennifer Lopez joined Los Dinos for an epic Selena tribute/reunion
On April 30, Jennifer Lopez caused peak nostalgia when she stepped into Selena’s shoes for the first time since ’97 in a moving, bittersweet tribute at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. Unlike in the movie, J. Lo actually sang Selena’s songs live, and she was backed by the original Los Dinos band. Regardless of whatever criticisms there are about J. Lo’s talents as a singer, this was a touching performance that was all about the late singer.
And a bunch of other singers paid tribute her too.
If you were a young Latina who loved to sing and grew up in the 90s, chances are Selena was your idol. This year, we saw an outpouring of covers and tributes to Selena from artists who grew up idolizing her, including Adrienne Bailon (who covered “I Could Fall in Love”), Kali Uchis (who covered “Si Una Vez”), and Jackie Cruz (who released a music video cover of “Como La Flor.”)
We got new, never-before-heard Selena music
“Oh No” (I’ll never fall in love again) by #SelenaQuintanilla with introduction by Mr. Quintanilla.SelenaQRadio.comLike-> FB.com/LoveSelenaOfficial Posted by Love Selena on Friday, September 11, 2015
After their M.A.C. victory, Selena fans once again rallied together. This time, they asked the Quintanillas to put out an unreleased track. Selena’s dad, Abraham Quintanilla, was hesitant to release the song because it was never professionally recorded, but in the end, he decided to do it for the fans. “The reason we never released it as one of her songs was because it’s not up to par as far as sound is concerned,” he said. “We thought the fans would enjoy, even though it’s not a professional recording.”
We learned new info on why and how the 'Selena' movie got made
The last scene of Selena shows fans holding a vigil for the late Queen of Tejano music. One of the faces in the crowd is teenager Tonantzin Esparza, who we learned in 2015, helped make this movie possible. The daughter of Moctesuma Esparza – a director who had made his name through The Milagro Beanfield War, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, and Gettysburg – was a Selena superfan, and was adamant that her father helm the film. He initially refused because he didn’t want to seem opportunistic, but Tonantzin never gave up, and as they say, the rest is history. Read our entire interview with her here for the amazing story.
We got a glimpse of what a Selena Emoji could look like
On the 20th anniversary of her death, artist Fang released a Selena emoji. Positive thinking has not been enough to get it added to Unicode’s official roster, but at least we now know what a Selena emoji would look like.
2015's rap royalty kept her memory alive too
This year, Selena got shout outs from some unexpected people as well as old friends. At the beginning of 2015, Drake posted two images of himself in the studio wearing a Selena shirt.
Then, in an interview with Billboard, Big Sean revealed that he has something like 30 or 40 vintage shirts, and one of them bears Selena’s face.
“Selena’s a legend,” he said. “She did it big; she was the first. I’m going to rock her on the tee, just like I rock Tupac, just like I rock Biggie.
And finally, a few weeks ago, Vicente Fernandez posted an image of the two of them “hace unos ayeres.”
Selena fans proved they're still a force to be reckoned with
When PopSugar Latina posted an article about how Kylie Jenner was basically like all our favorite Latina celebs rolled into one, Latina Twitter was not having it. People were especially upset that Jenner was compared to one of our greats, Selena.
Selena fans rose up and made PopSugar change its headline multiple times, before ultimately removing the post altogether. We all learned a lesson that day: Don’t mess with a Selena fan.