Photo: (L-R) Pam Francis/The Life Images Collection Via Getty Images/Getty Images; Jim McHugh © 1994
Songbook: Honoring Selena's Legacy Of Beloved Hits, Beautiful Deep Cuts & New Reimaginings
Fans can hear Selena's voice in a new way on 'Moonchild Mixes,' a remix album posthumously released by her family on Aug. 26. In celebration, revisit some of the singer's most inspiring songs.
Seven years since Selena's last posthumous album, her music is getting re-imagined in a new way. On Aug. 26, the family of the Tejano music queen unveiled Moonchild Mixes, a new remix album that features remastered versions of 13 songs (10 unreleased tracks and three new variations of previous releases) that she recorded as a teen. The release marks a special moment for those who loved the late star — who was tragically killed in 1995 at just 23 years old — and continues a legacy that lives on long after her passing.
"We've always said it has to do a lot with her personality — not just the music alone," Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. tells GRAMMY.com of why her music continues to connect with people around the world. "Selena had a beautiful personality. She was a beautiful person that people fell in love with and they still love her 27 years later."
Born Selena Quintanilla Pérez, she started out in a family band in the '80s with her sister Suzette on drums and brother A.B. Quintanilla III on bass guitar. As fourth generation Mexican-Americans in Texas, their pop-leaning, Top-40-influenced spin on regional Mexican music created a fresh kind of Tejano music. Throughout the '90s, Selena's colorful style of Tejano music helped the local genre go international with hits like "Como La Flor," "Amor Prohibido" and "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom."
Selena's success was transcending genre as she was becoming an all-around Latin pop star. In 1994, she became the first Tejano artist to win Best Mexican-American Album at the GRAMMY Awards for Selena Live!, and she logged eight Top 10 hits on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart during her lifetime.
Though Selena's career was sadly short-lived after her murder in March 1995, her music has continued to touch hearts around world, especially through the English-language songs that were planned for her pop crossover like the posthumous single "Dreaming of You." Even in her wake, Selena has become the face of mainstream Latinx representation in the U.S. and beyond.
"[The fans] are wanting to be like her. They're looking up to her. Not just as an artist, but because she was an amazing person as well — and a great role model for Latinos," Selena's sister Suzette adds. "We're talking 27 years later. She's still very much relevant in this music industry and dear to a lot of people."
Every song in Selena's catalog, from the well-known anthems to the B-sides and covers, have resonated with her fans in different ways. She tackled multiple genres in her lifetime without losing the spark that has made her an enduring light in the Latinx community. Below, take a look at Selena's legacy in songs — from the hits to the deep cuts to Moonchild Mixes.
"Como La Flor"
After steadily growing a fanbase throughout the '80s, Selena landed her first big hit in 1992 with "Como La Flor." A standout from her Entre Mi Mundo album, "Como La Flor" blends cumbia beats with influences of reggae and Latin pop music. Backed by colorful production, Selena wishes her ex-lover all the best after their love wilted like a flower. The heartbreaking track became a staple in her concerts, sounding even better live with the haunting intro that she belted out.
The title track from the last album that was released in her lifetime, "Amor Prohibido" serves up one of Selena's most powerful vocal performances. It's a story of forbidden lovers, and the will to keep their romance alive against all odds. (As Abraham reveals, the song's origin story stems from his grandmother, who grew up in a Mexican town with two different social societies.) The resilient message of "Amor Prohibido" has resonated with Selena's LGBTQ+ fans and become an anthem for them.
"Bidi Bidi Bom Bom"
"Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" is one of Selena's most funky songs, with a strong reggae influence that made it stand out from her other tropical-infused tracks. Over a bubbly beat, Selena sings about the sound her heart makes when she's in love. The song also had a rock edge that was new to regional Mexican music at the time, with an electric guitar solo about halfway through the track. The vivaciousness of "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" came to life in its music video, with Selena flashing her unforgettable smile as she dances with a crowd of people.
"Dreaming of You"
In "Dreaming of You," Selena gives a heartfelt performance as she sings about an otherworldly romance. The haunting single was a preview of the pop music that she was working on in 1995, as Selena and her label, Capitol EMI Latin, had plans to release a crossover album later that year. But when her time was tragically cut short in March 1995, the posthumously released album (also titled Dreaming of You) was rounded out with Spanish songs she'd previously recorded as well as remixes of old tracks like "Amor Prohibido." The beautiful ballad became poignant for fans when it was played over the memorial scenes in the 1997 movie Selena that starred Jennifer Lopez.
Another song that made an impact after Selena's passing, "Techno Cumbia" has become a club anthem since its release. Selena commanded the dance floor as she encouraged her listeners to move along with her: the Spanish lyrics translate, "Dance, dance, don't stop/ There's no time to rest,"
A.B.'s techno-inspired production on "Techno Cumbia" pushed cumbia forward at the time, and as Suzette explains, the sounds inspired the new Moonchild Mixes album. "You can hear a little bit of that fusion in this new album," she says. "It's a little bit of old school mixed with the future."
The Deep Cuts
Selena delivered a knockout performance with "Ya No," from her Amor Prohibido album. Backed by electric guitars, she channeled her inner rock star as she let a cheating lover know that his days with her were numbered. Despite lyrically being a kiss-off anthem, its musical inspiration ironically came from Selena's husband, Chris Pérez. "He was a rocker," Abraham explains. "We put him on the guitar and that gave it that rock feel."
Mexican music royalty collided with Selena's cover of "Costumbres." For her 1988 album Dulce Amor, Selena sang the heartbreaking ballad that was popularized by Spanish singer Rocío Dúrcal and written by Mexican icon Juan Gabriel. She gave a sweeping performance while adding a new Tejano twist to the track with sparkling synths and a funky keyboard.Though she was only 17 when the song was recorded, Selena's voice already sounded beyond its years with an emotional depth that would mark her later works.
"God's Child (Baila Conmigo)"
While "God's Child (Baila Conmigo)" may be a lesser-known song on Selena's Dreaming of You album, it's arguably one of the most experimental in her catalog. She teamed up with Talking Heads frontman David Byrne for the fiery song, which saw Bryne — who also produced the track — blend his rock sound with Selena's flamenco music influences. Trading verses in Spanish and English, both artists invited listeners to join their global dance party.
"I'm Getting Used to You"
From Celine Dion to Lady Gaga, many of pop's biggest stars have worked with legendary songwriter Diane Warren in their careers. Selena was among them when she recorded "I'm Getting Used to You" for her Dreaming of You album. Selena sang from the depth of her soul about a blossoming romance that had her head over heels. The track masterfully blends Latin instrumental touches with slinky pop beats, offering a promising sign of the pop career that Selena sadly never got to live out.
"Dame Un Beso"
Fans got more familiar with Selena's earlier career through Selena: The Series, a two-season Netflix series that ran from 2020-2021. The show focused on her career in the '80s as they were getting Selena y Los Dinos off the ground. The sweet love song reflected the band's Tejano music roots as well as the youthful sound that Selena's dulcet voice brought to life.
Selena's family revisited her earlier recordings in the Moonchild Mixes album, which features songs she recorded from ages 13 to 16 that have been re-produced by her brother with the latest studio technology. Selena's voice on the recordings have been mastered to sound more mature, like on the lead single, "Como Te Quiero Yo A Ti (Regional Mexican Version)," a dreamy ballad that's backed by a mariachi band. (The song also received a pop version on the album.)
"It's a beautiful song, and with the new music on it, and the enhancement of the voice, I think that the fans will love it," Abraham says. "It gives you a feeling like she went into the studio this morning and recorded this song."
Throughout the rest of the album's 13 tracks, A.B. explores the cumbia music that encompassed Selena's last hits with a fresh pop twist. The enchanting "Enamorada de Ti" — which sees Selena pleading for her lover not to leave her — has sweeping, stadium-ready production. The sweet "Cariño Mio" is transformed into a dance-floor anthem with its blast of cumbia beats. "Corazoncito" is like a successor to "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" with a pulsating, club-inspired beat that mimics the sound of a beating heart. The breathtaking ballad "Dame Tu Amor" is another track with multiple variations on the album, a mariachi mix and a cumbia version.
"[The album is] fused with more modern [sounds]," Suzette says. "We love the way that album came out and the way that there's my fusion of my brother's sound. Definitely you can hear my brother's sound in there."
Selena's family views the Moonchild Mixes album as a way for her longtime fans to have a new way to experience her songs and for the new generation to continue discovering her music. "They're searching for her. They're wanting to know more about her," Suzette Quintanilla adds. "This album is something definitely that they've been wanting and they've been asking for."
Source Photos: Jim McHugh © 1994, Gladys Vega/ Getty Images, Marco Ovando, Jean Paul Aussenard/Wireimage.com, Flo Ngala
Listen to GRAMMY.com's Hispanic Heritage Month 2022 Playlist: Featuring Latin Music Hits & Classics From Anitta, Selena, Bad Bunny, Shakira & More
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, GRAMMY.com highlights the riveting, celebratory sounds of Latin music in a genre- and era-spanning playlist featuring iconic songs from Jennifer Lopez, Karol G, Maná, Marco Antonio Solís, and many more.
Latin music isn't a genre — it's a culture. And 80 years of thriving Ibero-American sounds spanning across the Americas, the Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal are evidence of its ever-growing prominence. That's reflected in our 61-track playlist celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 2022.
Unbeknownst to nearly no one, Latin music, in both the Hispanophone and Lusophone styles, exploded onto the global mainstream in the last five years. When Luis Fonsi's and Daddy Yankee's GRAMMY-nominated global hit "Despacito" broke the internet, the sound crossed into international borders — and markets — like never before. Today, Bad Bunny is one of the biggest stars on the planet, with his glorious, record-breaking, chart-topping, and hit-making streak still going strong.
Yet formidable contributions Stateside have continued since the golden age of boleros: New York's Mexican/Puerto Rican trio Los Panchos pioneered the romantic, nylon-driven ballad style in the '40s. In 1958, 17-year-old Ritchie Valens turned a son jarocho song into a rockabilly classic ("La Bamba"); Carlos Santana has played a key role in the evolution of Latin rock since Woodstock in the late-'60s; New York Latin troupe Fania All-Stars globalized salsa and Caribbean-rooted rhythms in the late '60s. Lest anyone forget Tejano icon Selena and her techno cumbia or the so-called "Latin explosion," led by Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Shakira, and Marc Anthony, both in the '90s.
Although reggaeton and música urbana superstars like Bad Bunny, J Balvin and Karol G continue to reign almighty on the global Latin pop scene, there is a growing number of promising, diverse voices within the Latin music soundscape bubbling up today. Honduran-born SoundCloud creator Isabella Lovestory is spearheading a provocative neo-reggaeton style of her own; Colombia's Ela Minus is giving her defiant electronic sound an exciting darkwave edge; and Mexican viral rapper Santa Fe Klan is resurrecting cumbia sonidera within the rap en español circuit.
Photo: Pam Francis/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Selena's Life And Musical Journey Gets Scripted Series
No premiere date or further information has been announced
Selena famously won music lovers’ hearts and respect for a very simple reason: She was unabashedly herself: a Mexican-American young woman chasing her dream amidst two cultures. Now the iconic Tex-Mex/techno cumbia singer is getting a scripted Netflix series about her life story and how she surpassed cultures and categories to bring her talent to the world.
The series, described as a "coming-of-age" story, will be executive produced by Selena's sister, Suzette Quintanilla, and her father, Abraham Quintanilla, along with entertainment content production company's Jaime Davila, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Moises Zamora (American Crime) will write the script.
No premiere date or further information has been announced.
Selena rose to fame in the Spanish-language music market singing Tejano music and taking on cumbia, norteño and mariachi music. She released four successful Spanish-language albums, but ultimately, crossing over to American audiences was always the goal, music executive Jose Behar told the Recording Academy.
Behar signed Selena to EMI Latin.
"The whole thing with the Selena signing was … back then female artists didn't sell in the Tejano music market," Behar explained. "There wasn't one female artist that ever really sold or had any substantial success in Tejano music."
"But I never really signed her as a Tejano artist. I thought she was my Gloria Estefan. That was truly the emphasis on signing her," he continued. "We signed her with the vision of crossing her over, never really thinking we're going to have that huge success on the Latin side. It was always, always, always about the crossover."
Selena was born in Texas to a tight-knit Mexican-American family. Throughout her career, her family played a major role in her music. Her brother A.B. Quintanilla, now in his own group, the Kumbia All Stars, and her sister Suzette were both musicians in her band. Her father, Abraham, was her manager, portrayed as an over-protective and at times controlling in the 1997 Selena film with Jennifer Lopez.
Bidi Bidi Bom Bom @SelenaLaLeyenda’s incredible life story is coming to Netflix as a scripted series! @selena_netflix was developed alongside, and will be executive produced by, The Quintanilla family #NetflixNewsWeek pic.twitter.com/6YUMoAeA7Z— See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) December 11, 2018
When Selena won Best Mexican-American Album for Live at the 36th GRAMMY Awards, she made it clear how much her family meant to her and her success.
"I’d like to thank my band, Los Dinos, my father Abraham, my brother who's the producer of my music and also my sister. Thank you for all the support ..."
Selena's Netflix series will dive into her familial relationships.
"Selena will always have a lasting place in music history, and we feel great responsibility to do justice to her memory. With this series, viewers will finally get the full history of Selena, our family, and the impact she has had on all of our lives, Selena's sister, Suzette Quintanilla, said in a statement. "We are excited to partner with Campanario and Netflix to give fans a never-before-seen glimpse at our story and highlight why Selena will remain a legend for generations to come."
Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Mon Laferte, Gabby Moreno To Highlight Immigrant Experience At Selena Concert
The concert will take place in New York and will feature a line-up of Latin artists
Selena continues to impact and influence generations of Latinos even after her death. Inspired by the iconic Tejano singer's legacy in music and the Latino community, a free concert will celebrate her music while bringing awareness to the undocumented immigrant experience in the U.S.
Selena for Sanctuary will be held at the Lincoln Center in New York on July 26 and will feature a lineup of Latin artists and musicians. Among them are Chilean singer and Latin GRAMMY winner Mon Laferte as well as Guatemalan Latin GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Gaby Moreno. Rock vocalist Nina Diaz, indie artist Cuco, singer/songwriter Omar Apollo, singer August Eve and DJ/producer Riobamba will also perform.
NPR's Alt. Latino's Felix Contreras will host the concert and guitarist Chris Perez, Selena's widower, will join Nina Diaz during her performance.
The music artists will "bring their own spirit to Selena's famous melodies." It will also be an opportunity for fans to get to know a variety of nonprofits that provide aid with immigration issues. The event was music manager Doris Muñoz's idea, who began the event when her parents needed help with their immigration process. Muñoz manages Cuco and August Eve.
The concert will let fans "link arms and fight the good fight. We can do this while enjoying a beautiful night of music for our immigrant communities, at a prestigious platform like Lincoln Center where our community deserves a seat at this table," Muñoz told Remezcla. "This couldn't come at a better time."
Photo: M. Caulfield/WireImage
The Latinas Of 'Women Who Rock'
Sometimes Latinas are forgotten about when it comes to popular music; we look at the Latina artists who are featured in 'Women Who Rock,' a new book that celebrates female artists making contributions to popular culture
Wearing a long blue lace gown with ruffled flounce sleeves, the late salsa music queen Celia Cruz was a powerhouse onstage during the 2002 Latin GRAMMY Awards. With her trademark smile and a towering white and blue wig that was so grand it resembled a headdress, she energetically belted "La Negra Tiene Tumbao," her 2001 hit song that was nominated for three Latin GRAMMYs that evening, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Music Video of the Year.
This moment is highlighted in Women Who Rock, a new book that pays tribute to women who have defined, continue to define and have made contributions to popular music. The illustrated book is densely rich and written by multiple authors, all of whom are female. It features playlists picked to sonically introduce readers to the artists they read about.
It's not an easy feat to rundown the history of women in music, however pop music critic and editor Evelyn McDonnell was determined to do just that alongside a roster of diverse women.
"I didn't want it to just be my taste. Or my opinion," shared McDonnell. "I wanted to have this pool of experts…and I really sought diversity of expertise among those writers."
One of those writers, Michelle Threadgould knew "there would be this mad dash [to feature mostly] white rock and roll female musicians." So she pitched and ultimately penned pieces spotlighting Cruz, Selena Quintanilla, Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux, Los Angeles punk rocker Alice Bag and other Latina artists featured in the book.
"I pitched…artists that I really wanted in the book and that I did not think the majority would pitch," she shared. "I have an essay in there that's about Alice Bag. Alice Bag has definitely not had pages dedicated to her in a book like this," Threadgould said.
Representation of Latin Women in Music
"I feel like [Latinas tend] to get left out of a lot of discourses," McDonnell said. "Beginning with Celia Cruz, who's someone I think is so amazing and sometimes not acknowledged enough outside the Latino community."
"There's so many interesting things about Celia," Threadgould said. "I think the hardest thing is things that you leave out."
we dance. we sing. we celebrate 5 years of days are gone by singing selena pic.twitter.com/I6jx9mmhgl— HAIM (@HAIMtheband) October 1, 2018
Threadgould begins Cruz's chapter with her 2002 Latin GRAMMY performance and goes into the Afro-Latina's musical style describing "her call-and-response improvisations." She also explores on her exile from Cuba, which played a crucial role in her professional and personal life.
The book also tells the story of Selena Quintanilla, the popular cumbia and Tex-Mex singer who was tragically killed in 1995 at the age of 23. In the past two decades the singer, who made history when she won Best Mexican-American Album at the 1994 36th GRAMMY Awards, has transcended the Latino community, garnering nods from the likes of rapper Drake and pop group Haim.
Although a film adaptation of Selena's life was released in 1997, starring a then relatively unknown Jennifer Lopez, was met with critical acclaim, Threadgould digs deeper into her life before and after her death. "I was also really tired of her being portrayed as this good daughter that [re-affirmed] patriarchal machismo values that were bullsh, because that really wasn't her life," she said. "That absolutely was not. I guess it was sort of like a reframing of Selena that was important to me."
Why This Narrative Is Important To All Women
It was Selena's ability to defy her obstacles as a woman, and the resilience of all the other artists in the book that overcame their own boundaries that at the end of the day, both McDonnell and Threadgoud, hope women can draw from the book and use as encouragement in their own lives.
"It's a really tough time right now, because I think that everything that's in the news is triggering for so many women, right. It's hard. It's really hard," McDonnell said. "I'm going through that emotionally, myself. I hope that this book can be a point of inspiration."
Threadgould added: "What I think is really important is this whole idea of owning your rage, owning your ugliness, owning these aspects of yourself that aren't accepted by the patriarchy and claiming them and researching them, and not being afraid of them," she said. "Every single person that I dig was like a rebel in her own way. That's what I really hope women are inspired to be is like to be their own rebel."
Women Who Rock is available now.