If you used Google earlier this week you might have noticed a short video on the company’s search engine page. You might have clicked it, and if you’re like me and many others, you probably smiled immediately as the tune “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” began, and the story of a young woman played out in colorful vivacity.
The short video is an animated biopic of the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez. It is a project initiated by Google’s Marketing, Partnerships, & Licensing Lead Perla Campos and celebrates the singer’s life, tragically cut short in the mid-90s. Fans around the world still consider Selena, “La Reina” or the Queen of Tejano music.
I truly believe the importance of Selena Quintanilla-Perez is not celebrated enough, so thank you Google for honoring the life of a beloved musician who helped to empower young women and break the mold of a very male dominated music scene.
Selena’s interest in music began at an early age. Her father, a musician in his youth, saw the potential of his daughter as a singer. Selena and her two siblings, A.B. and Suzette, were encouraged to pursue music, and their band, Selena Y Los Dinos was formed when they were just children.
Early in their career, Selena and her band played at restaurants, quincenieras, weddings and small carnivals. As their ambitions grew, so did adversity. Tejano music was still a male-oriented genre, and the band was even overlooked by certain venues because Selena was a woman.
Still, they persevered. Selena’s bubbly personality gave the genre a much needed feminine flair, while her brother, A.B., wrote new songs for the band that opened up the Hispanic/Western sound of Tejano music to other genres. Songs such as “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Techno Cumbia” and “El Chico Del Apartamento 512” sent fans to their feet, while others such as “Como La Flor” and “Amor Prohibido” were fan favorites to sing along to. Soon, it didn’t matter that Selena was a woman. People loved her and her music.
As a Mexican-American artist, Selena was often reminded of her responsibility to relate to both cultures. She had a huge fan base in Mexico and in the United States and found a way to embrace both sides of her heritage through her music and warm personality. She sang primarily in Spanish, and later in her career she worked on her first “crossover” album with songs in English. Her love for fashion culminated on stage in personally designed chic Western attire that incorporated Hispanic elements and popular fashion of 80s-90s.
Selena’s true lasting impact lies not only in her music, but in her devotion to being a good person. She served as a wonderful role model for girls and young people everywhere. She gave girls the inspiration to follow their dreams, believed heavily in education and was a huge representative for the Mexican-American demographic and Latinx generation. She made it OK for young girls and multicultural people to feel comfortable with themselves because she was always comfortable with who she was.
Sadly, Selena’s life was cut short at the age of 23 when she was murdered by a disgruntled employee who was caught embezzling money from Selena’s fan club and fashion business. The shock of her murder sent fans reeling, and more than two decades later, we still keep her music and legacy close to our hearts.
It was over a decade ago that Selena Quintanilla-Perez fell into my family’s life in a big way. It was around that time when my youngest brother, then four, fell in love with Selena.
For what seemed like a year straight, he’d watch the Selena movie (starring Jennifer Lopez) and a DVD recording of Selena’s last concert on a near daily basis. He knew all the songs. He danced and sang along. He even found a small audience during a family trip to Disneyworld – the amusement park played “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” and my baby brother took to an empty stage to sing and dance along. Earlier this week my dad mentioned how my brother ran down the stairs to show him the video Google posted and the Selena gallery that accompanies it.
For me and my family, Selena’s music is emblematic of the love a family shares. For others, she is a celebration of culture, a symbol of feminism and a seminal figure among musicians. Her stamp on Mexican-American pop culture is undeniable, and her music reaches people around the world. Google’s new video and gallery of Selena is a heartfelt tribute to the late singer and her fans.
It’s important, I think, to understand the resonance of a person like Selena. It’s important to be reminded that the celebration of life and acceptance of others is imperative to making the world a better place. For the short time that she was here, Selena used her talents to better the lives of her fans, family and friends, and she will always be remembered as the Queen of Tejano music.
Selena will also be honored by the city of Los Angeles on Nov. 3 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. in front of Capitol Records on Vine Street and will also coincide with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proclamation of Selena Day, to be held every Nov. 3 in Los Angeles.
Bonus Photos: A few snaps of my family at Fiesta De La Flor, an annual celebration of the life and music of Selena Quintanilla-Perez held in Corpus Christi, Texas!