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Legacy of Tejano Singer Lives On...Ten Years Later

By: Jennifer Cavazos
By: Jennifer Cavazos

Thursday marks the 10-year anniversary of Tejano star Selena's death, but her musical legacy still lives on.

Selena was Tejano music's brightest hope for the future. Had she lived, she might well have been the first international superstar to come out of the Tejano market. A vivacious entertainer who could sing any style of music...her potential was unlimited. Playing everything from rancheras to hip hop..

"She open doors in that tejano like we know it where she was able to go into Mexico, and she was able to come into other states and other categories like hip hop." says radio personality "Sweet" Caroline Benavides.

The youngest of three children, Selena started singing at age 6 with her band los Dinos. At 15, she won her first Tejano Music Award for female entertainer of the year and exploded in popularity. By 23, Selena was the reigning queen of Tejano music and winning a Grammy for her Selena Live album.

"If you ever saw her on stage, [you know] she put on one good show. Whatever you paid to go in, it was worth it when you saw Selena. She was it." says radio personality, Greg Rodriguez.

As word of Selena's death on March 31 spread, fans reacted with a massive public display of adoration. Flowers and cards covered the fence surrounding her home. Tejano radio stations played Selena's music around the clock and stores couldn't keep her albums on the shelf.

"The people just couldn't get enough of hearing her music. And trying to grab on to things like memories and pictures." says Benavides.

Some say Selena was the total package. Along with her unique sound...the Tejano sensation turned heads with her sexy dance moves and rhinestone bustiers. And while Tejano was a male dominated industry, Selena became its glittering, wholesome diva.

"She was the last spark for tejano music. She was what was keeping it alive." says Benavides.

A decade after Selena was gunned down by the president of her fan club, Selena's musical legacy continues to thrive, winning over thousands of new fans -- many of them young girls born after she died.

Selena's first english album Dreaming of You sold more than 3 million copies and became a smash hit, proving her dream of crossing over had finally come true.

Selena took Tejano music to another level. Her last concert was in February at the Houston Astrodome...marking a record attendance.

Soon after, she came to Bryan at the invitation of a special friend. On March 19th Selena performed at Denim and Diamonds. No one knew at the time, it would be her final show.

"She just kept staring at me and again she said julie, I love you. I said Selena I love you too but I have to go and you need to go to. I feel like this was her goodbye because I didn't get to see her again." says Julie Ramirez, Selena's seamstress.

On stage, Selena created a sexy image with her long, jet-black hair and deep-red lips, her dance moves, her skintight pants and rhinestone-covered bustiers. Off-stage, however, her humble personality and her devotion to family struck a chord with fans.

"Anywhere Selena performed at if you met her one time. I don't care if it was in a crowd she would always acknowledge you." says Ramirez.

The tejano sensation who wowed audiences with timeless hits such as, "Como La Flor," and "No Me Queda Más," was on the verge of crossing over into the English-language market when she was tragically killed. At age 23, just days shy of her birthday, Selena was gone.

"She had everything going for her. It was like something you can't believe. You think it's a dream and gonna change. I think that's what everybody thought. It was something undescribable." says Ramirez.

Vigils were organized and thousands of others traveled to Corpus Christi to pay their last respects to the tejano star.

"Selena won't be forgotten for a very long time. I think she'll be with us for a lifetime." says Ramirez.

Some say when Selena died, the Tejano genre of music lost its way...
But her influence runs far deeper than the music she left behind; she has become a cultural icon for Latinos who see her as a woman who was proud of her roots and achieved her dreams


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