One of the most influential musical icons of the 1990s was the “Queen of Tejano Music” Selena. Since her debut with her band Selena y Los Dinos in the late 1980s, the iconic singer was celebrated in Texas and Mexico as she made history as the first female to top the charts in a male-domineering musical genre. Sadly, it wasn’t until her death in 1995 that her legacy gained worldwide attention.
Growing up in the Washington DC metropolitan area, I didn’t really know who Selena was until the radio stations started to play the song “Dreaming of You”. I remember listening to the song on a hot summer day and had kept on thinking that it was simply magical. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I reconnected with the song and the rest of Selena’s discography.
The Life of Selena
Dreaming of You is a pinnacle album as it celebrates two parts of her career. One part is from the formation of Selena y Dinos during Selena’s childhood to her winning a Grammy Award in 1994. This was an arduous period as the band had to find their sparkle, audience, and, most importantly, voice. I remember watching the movie Selena with Jennifer Lopez and thinking how tough it was for Selena y Los Dinos when many disappointing situations. Some of them were disappointing audience numbers at performances, bias viewpoints, or failed business avenues. But, Selena never gave up as she was an innovator that solved problems instead of running away from them.
By 1989, Selena y Los Dinos scored a major record label deal with EMI Latin. This deal came into fruition after Jose Behar thought he found the next Gloria Estaban after watching Selena at the 1989 Tejano Awards. However, it also shelved her dream of recording English songs as EMI Records executives at the time thought that a “Mexican American woman could [never] have “crossover potential” . Instead, she released her self-titled Spanish major debut album to the Latin music market in the fall of 1989.
Perhaps, having Selena make an English music debut in 1989 was an untimely idea. During the time when Selena was released, the singer was just getting popular all around Mexico and Texas. However, it probably wasn’t enough to sway the execs to see that she was ready for an English debut.
I have always wondered if the EMI execs wanted to test the waters by having her release Spanish material first. Yes, she did previously released a handful of independent records years earlier. However, now armed with a major record label that could promote her music more, it could have been a risky venture if the record label and Selena did not try out the Latin music market first.
Whatever the case may have been, Selena didn’t give up her dreams by working hard on any material she had a chance to work on. She was given a bit of artistic freedom when creating albums with her family.
One example is “Enamorada de Ti”, where she gave her listeners the first taste of her dream of being an international superstar by releasing a song that was totally different from then her usual. “Enamorada de Ti” is described as a freestyle song with hip-hop roots. The idea for the song came after her father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., wanted to write a modern-day song to pursue EMI execs for a crossover deal if, according to Behar, they had a chance to see her perform. It is unknown if they actually came to see her. Nevertheless, “Enamorada de Ti” is a wonderful song that showcases Selena’s powerful potential.
The Queen of Tejano
Between 1989 to 1994, Selena’s main musical focus was Tejano. Selena and her band made awesome songs like “La Carcacha”, “Como La Flor”, “Amor Prohibido”. “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”, and my favorite “Baila Esta Cumbia”.
A turning point in Selena’s career was winning a Grammy for her 1993 live album “Selena Live!”. Winning this award proved to the music execs and the world that she was ready for a crossover. It was also an indicator that she was ready to try something different.
Even though Selena would never completely abandon her Tejano roots, she wanted to try something that was more her yet popular in the world: pop music. And, her father began to feel the same way. He began to look for lyricists and composers who knew the music industry well and could get along with her musical direction after getting a green light by EMI Records to produce a crossover album.
Dreaming of You: The Ultimate Crossover
After many months of carefully searching, Selena and her father found the people who they wanted to work. Leaving no time to waste, Selena recorded her first song, “If I Could Fall in Love” in December 1994. She then recorded “Dreaming of You”, which was a song that Selena handpick for the album as it represented her perfectly. She went on to record “Captive Heart”, “God’s Child (Baila Conmigo)”, “I’m Getting Used to You”, before her unfortunate death on March 31st, 1995.
Even if it is a combination of previously released and new tracks, Dreaming of You is a timeless, well-written album that demonstrates Selena’s talented voice. It also starts a new chapter in Selena’s life as she wanted to cross over into the international music scene while trying out a new sound. It gave us a glimpse of what the future had in store for Selena’s musical experiences. I just wished it showed more of, what Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News wrote, her “bubbly, effervescent personality, the chica-del-barrio charm”.
“Dreaming of You”: Selena’s Magical, Romantic Tune
“Dreaming of You” is a magical yet timeless soft pop song. One of the best parts is the chorus because it showcases Selena’s powerful vocals. Another favorite part is the bridge, it’s so mysterious yet mystical as Selena is singing, speaking Spanish, and instrumentation’s sound is deep with a soft guitar, a conga, a drum kit, and a bass synthesizer.
Another Favorite Selena Song
“Donde Quiera Que Estes” is another favorite tune by Selena of mine. It is a sexy duet between Selena and Barrio Boyzz that I absolutely love. The chemistry between Selena and the boys is dynamic, making the song oh so delicious. Plus, it’s New Jack Swing, which is one of my favorite genres.
 “Dreaming of You (album).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Jan. 2006. Web. 20 July 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreaming_of_You_(album)>
 Contributor, GuideLive. “1995 Flashback: Selena Soared beyond Traditional Limits on Tejano Music.” Dallas News, Dallas News, 26 Aug. 2019, www.dallasnews.com/arts-entertainment/music/2015/03/31/1995-flashback-selena-soared-beyond-traditional-limits-on-tejano-music/.
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“Donde Quiera Que Estes” by Selena is quite good.
I didn’t know much about Selena for a long time, either, since I grew up in Florida and she wasn’t very popular there. I remember listening to a bit of her music in my high school Spanish class. But now that I live in Houston where she was very popular, I see her face a lot and hear her music. I believe I saw something that she was just inducted into the Rodeo Houston hall of fame.
I didn’t knew about her. This article gives a very good insight to her life. Also, i loved her songs. Thanks for sharing this 🙂
OH MY GOODNESS! I was OBSESSED with the movie Selena when I was in the 4th grade. OBSESSED. It was so sad when she died. Ugh. She could have been still with us today if it weren’t for her jealous assistant!
I used to listen to Selena in middle school. This definitely brings back memories!
Wow, such a great article from a nice perspective of Selena’s life.
Thanks for being so thoughtful and sharing the details of the Queen of Tejano Music Ms. Selena.
Selena has some great music. Loved that movie!
These are great articles you write! I am a classically trained musician, and we never really got to study pop music.
I didn’t hear about Selena before, I was very young when she died and her music didn’t reach me at that time. Her songs are really nice, she had a beautiful voice. Shame she died so young.
Oh, wow! Thanks for all this info. I actually didn’t know much about Selena!
What a great singer. You are definitely by go to person for learning about bands and singers that I would never have heard of or been introduced to. Thanks so much for sharing these cool singers with us.
In all honesty, I’ve never heard of Selena before. The video you posted in awesome, she is really brilliant.
Its a great remembrance. Its an eye opener for me. Like Chad, I have never heard of Selena until you wrote something like this. And I was listening to her music now.
Very interesting story and the videos are lit. Thanks for sharing
Love Selena’s music! I was super into her in high school!
I still hear some of her music and she is timeless. So incredible how their music still lives this long
Selena is a star that shines so brightly and so briefly.
her music is timeless and ever so beautiful! thanks for reminding!
Good to know about her. Thanks for sharing the story.
Wow this is good. Nice to know about her. Thanks for sharing.
I am a huge fan of Selena and I love all her songs. She has gone through so much but she is inspiring all of us in her unique way.
I haven’t listened to Selena is so long. Thank you for the reminder!
Thank you for sharing this story about Selena. I love remembering her.
Selena was such a star, so sad what happened to her. Her music is beautiful and has lived on!
Dreaming of you is such a beautiful song! I didn’t know much about her so thanks for sharing this article.
Selena is a musical icon and she should keep listening to her music. I am glad you share Selena’s life story here.
I didn’t know much about Selena before, but after reading this, I really like her songs and her voice. She sings very beautifully. And the lyrics to her songs are also good.
I came to know her from J.Lo’s movie……amazing life story…..
Thanks for introducing me to Selena. Seems like an awesome singer.
I have heard a few songs of Selena. I always liked her voice and music.
I’ve read about Selena over the years, especially after the movie came out, but had never heard her sing until I watched the videos in this post. Dreaming of You sounds perfect!
Love Selena’s music! Thanks for all this info.
I love Selena, I really hope they remake her movie so that the younger generation can fall in love with her also. Such a beautiful soul. <3
She is pretty. Love her hair. I love the Selena movie.
I love Selena although I was only 10 when she passed away. I didn’t know who she was until years later when I saw the movie and she inspired me to sing. It is one of my favorite movies to date. She would have gone on to do some amazing things. It’s so sad that she died. Thank you for sharing, I’m gonna go turn on some Selena music!
She was a great singer, indeed! I have not really read about her a lot. Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks for bringing this classic and making a part of my playlist. She is a great singer.
Wow, well_written article. I really love with your blog.
I looked up to Selena so much when I was younger. She was and still is an inspiration to many people around the world. Her music is always on repeat in my home!
A very well written article. I loved it.
That was interesting to know! Great star!
What’s up, its nice post on the topic of media print, we all understand media is a wonderful source