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     English Wordplay ~ Listen and Enjoy

SELENA QUINTANILLA-PEREZ    1971-1995

I was singing outdoors. It was, to me, 
an exchange of energy like a celestial chorus,
and I heard some of the angels join in.
The Queen of Tejano music Selena

An American singer, who has been called "The Queen of Tejano music".  The youngest child of a Mexican couple, she released her first album at the age of twelve.

She won Female Vocalist of the Year at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards and later landed a recording contract with EMI.

Selena - Amor Prohibido

She was murdered at the age of 23 by Yolanda Saldívar, the president of her fan club.

On April 12, 1995, two weeks after her death, George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, declared her birthday "Selena Day".  Warner Brothers made a film based on her life starring Jennifer Lopez in 1997.  She is commemorated with a museum and a bronze life-sized statue in Texas, which are visited by hundreds of fans.

PETER Your parents were Jehovah's Witnesses.  What did the religion of your childhood mean to you then and later?
SELENA That there was a strong faith in a Power outside of us that would take care of us, if we gave witness to the Lord.  It is a very helpful religious practice for people who need to be directed.  As I grew older and began to move within the music, I remembered that all of us were of the Power.
PETER When you were about three, your brother and sister were given musical instruments.  You did not get one but delighted your musician father by singing "Blue Moon" to him.
SELENA (LAUGHS).  You might say I knocked his socks off.  I had always had a fascination with music.  When I heard it on the radio, I would instantly be able to sing along.
PETER Did you draw from a past life or two?
SELENA Or three or four.  Just about every life I have lived has been something musical.  In Spain I sang arias at the outdoor amphitheaters.  That was where I felt the vibration of Earth, intermingling with the vibration that was coming out of me.
PETER In 1994, your hit single Amor Prohibido told your grandparents' love story.  Were you close to your grandparents?
SELENA In our family everybody was close.  In that same recording my brother, "A.B." and sister, Suzette, was on drums.  A.B was beautifully adept at taking an emotion and putting into music.  Suzette just liked to make noise, but there was a very comforting closeness between us.
PETER You were a good student, but your parents pulled you out of school when you were about 13, and you completed your education by a correspondence course.  Education remained important to you, didn't it?
SELENA I had an insatiable curiosity about words, about facts, and about what is important to a person.  Most people think that singing is just a matter of having a pleasing melody, but it's much more than that.  It's touching the heartstrings of the person, connecting to some joyous event within their lives.  So words and connections, thought processes, became very important to me.
PETER In 1987, when you were only 16, you won the Tejano Music Award for "Female Entertainer of the Year."
SELENA Tejano Music was a bringing together of all the energies in which I had been raised - a lot of whites within the United States are European, and of course we were in a Latino area.  So it captured peoples' hearts and imaginations across ethnic lines.  I was bringing back within me songs which I had sung in various incarnations.  Tejano works because it takes the romance, the vigor, the excitement of the Latino world and marries it with the ambition that is found in the European world.
PETER February 1995 saw you sing before 61,000 in the Houston Astrodome.  Was that the highlight of your career?
SELENA It was an exchange of energy like a celestial chorus, and I heard some of the angels join in.  I think everybody there was moved by the energy within that arena.
PETER You believed that Yolanda Saldívar, the manager of your boutique chain, was stealing from the business.   When you confronted her, she shot you.  Before dying of your wounds you identified her as your killer, and subsequently, she was given a life sentence for your murder.
SELENA I told her that I would have to let her go, and she said, "Well, if you're going to let me go, are you going to go to the police?"   I said I hadn't decided that yet, and she said that she would make sure I didn't, and that was when she shot me.
PETER How do you feel now about Yolanda?
SELENA She had a path, just as I had a path.  We had agreed that my life would end with her, and that she would have the experience of incarceration and restriction of freedom, as she is still having.  As a matter of fact, she and I have had a number of lives together.  We're soul mates.
Selena on the cover of Amor Prohibido

Toni comments: Selena had a very, sweet, loving, concerned energy.  There were no hard edges with her whatsoever, no flag-carrying, stand-on-the-soapbox remarks, no regrets or excuses for her life experiences.  Everything just flowed.  Everything was melody, comfort, and love.  A delightful soul.  The entire interview had a rhythm of its own that carried it along flawlessly.


Talking with Twentieth Century Women
The foregoing are excerpts from Talking with Twentieth Century Women.
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