Entertainment

Remembering Selena 22 years after her death

(CNN) When Selena was breaking concert attendance records at home and abroad, there weren't a lot of crossover pop stars who looked like her in the United States.

There was Rita Moreno and Gloria Estefan and ... well, that's about it.

The March 31, 1995, death of the Mexican-American singer plunged many Latino listeners into mourning and brought her music to the attention of English speakers who would soon become fans.

Selena Quintanilla-Perez started singing the Tejano music that eventually made her famous in her father's restaurant in Lake Jackson, Texas. Her father Abraham taught the family band and named them Los Dinos after his own group from earlier years. Selena's brother, A.B., played bass, and her sister, Suzette, played drums.

When the family moved to Corpus Christi, the group started getting gigs at local parties and weddings.

Selena was only 15 when she won female entertainer of the year at the Tejano Music Awards. That got her a record contract, and several albums followed. She eventually married her guitarist, Chris Perez.

In 1994, she won a Grammy for best Mexican-American album for "Selena Live!" and seemed poised for mainstream stardom.

When the president of Selena's fan club shot her to death the following year in a Texas motel room, her first English-language album was months from release. Her death made international headlines.

She was 23 years old.

Twenty-two years later, her influence is still being felt.

Here are five things you may not know about Selena.

Selena had to learn Spanish.

A third-generation Texan of Mexican descent, Selena didn't grow up speaking Spanish. Neither did her husband, Perez, who played guitar in her band and fell in love with her on the road.

In his book, "To Selena, with Love," Perez said they practiced speaking Spanish before their first big publicity blitz in Mexico. "In Mexico, Selena mangled her conversations in Spanish like the rest of us, but not for long."

"She said, 'It'll be cool. You watch. I'm going to learn Spanish and surprise everybody,' " Perez wrote. "She got better and better, to the point where I'd have to ask her to slow down so that I could understand what she was saying."

She sold out the Astrodome.

Selena performed several times at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Astrodome to sold-out crowds of more than 60,000 people. (It wasn't just any rodeo: Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and the Osmonds have all played the event.)

"We had 20 performances this year," Leroy Shafer, assistant general manager of the show, told the New York Times in 1995. "We had Reba McEntire, George Strait, Clint Black and Vince Gill. She had the highest-selling show concert at our show this year, at 61,041 in the Astrodome."

Her album went to No. 1.

Her 1995 crossover album, "Dreaming of You," went to the top of the Billboard 200 the first week it was released. She was the first Latin artist to debut atop the list.

"There were supposed to be 14 tracks, but we had only recorded four of them, so we put together a tribute album of new and old songs," Nancy Brennan, then vice president of A&R at EMI, told Texas Monthly. "Making that album was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, because we were listening to her voice all day and crying as we were mixing the songs."

"Selena" (the movie) ignited Jennifer Lopez's career.

Starring as Selena in the 1997 movie of the same name, Jennifer Lopez became the first Latina actress to be paid $1 million for a movie role. Lopez was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

"Getting to play the part of Selena was life-changing for me," Lopez told Para Todos magazine. "I got to immerse myself in her life, got to know her family, her home, her culture ... every part of her story. It was a special time in my life both professionally and personally. Playing her not only opened doors for me in the film world, but it inspired me to start my own music career. In a lot of ways, I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had that experience."

Selena's killer is eligible for parole in 2025.

Yolanda Saldivar, the president of Selena's fan club, was sentenced to life in prison in October 1995 for Selena's murder. Saldivar must serve at least 30 years of her sentence before she is eligible for parole.

Selena was meeting with Saldivar at a Corpus Christi motel to discuss her concerns that Saldivar had embezzled money from her when Saldivar shot her, according to trial testimony. Saldivar argued that she accidentally fired the shot, but the jury didn't buy it.

CNN's Victoria Moll-Ramirez contributed to this story.

Celebrating Selena's legacy

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Montecillo will celebrate the life and legacy of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla during a weekend-long festival March 31 through April 2, with screenings of the movie "Selena", a themed menu, Selena trivia and Karaoke, a Selena look-a-like contest, lobby decorations, a Selena photo booth and an outdoor concert by Austin's first all-star Selena tribute band, Bidi Bidi Banda.

The celebration kicks off Friday, March 31 with screenings of  the 1997 film written and directed by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez about the life of the late Tejano music queen.

Screenings of "Selena" are available all weekend long.

There will be a Selena photo booth in the lobby and a special Selena-inspired food and drink menu available.

Every movie ticket includes access to the Bidi Bidi Banda concert on Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse Montecillo. 

The celebration continues on Saturday, April 1, when the Selena Celebration takes over the Glass Half Full Taproom inside the Alamo Drafthouse Montecillo.

Fans and trivia geeks alike can enjoy a special edition of Selena Trivia at 6 p.m. followed by Selena Karaoke at 8 p.m., and a special Selena performance and look-a-like contest led by entertainer and Selena impersonator Diamond at 10 p.m.

All of the events at the Glass Half Full on Saturday, April 1 are free to the public.

The festival wraps up on Sunday, April 2 with an outdoor performance by Texas' premiere Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda (based out of Austin, TX). The concert begins at 6 p.m. and will take place outside of the Alamo Drafthouse Montecillo.

Each ticket sold to a screening of "Selena" March 31 - April 2 includes access to the Bidi Bidi Banda concert on Sunday. Guests will need to show their movie ticket stubs to gain access to the concert.

If guests wish to only attend the Bidi Bidi Banda concert they can purchase a ticket for $5.

"Selena has left an indelible impression in the hearts of many people and for Alamo it's a privilege to be able to honor her legacy and celebrate her talent," says Alamo Drafthouse Montecillo Creative Manager, Kyle Alvarado.

"This festival will offer something special for her fans and help keep the memory of Selena alive in El Paso."

'Anything for Selenas' Festival Schedule:

Friday, March 31:

·       Screenings of SELENA (all day)

Saturday, April 1:

·       Screenings of SELENA (all day)

·       Selena Trivia: 6pm at the Glass Half Full

·       Selena Karaoke: 8pm at the Glass Half Full

·       Diamond Selena performer and Look-Alike Contest: 10pm at the Glass Half Full

Sunday, April 2:

·       Screenings of SELENA (all day)

·       Outdoor Selena Tribute Concert by Bidi Bidi Banda: 6pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Montecillo


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