At the top of her career in Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla-Perez was waiting to go mainstream.
Selena Quintanilla was already a star across Spanish America, with songs like “Love Prohibido” and “Como La Flor.” However, she unhear by non-Spanish speakers, and was ready to change that.
In March 1995, she arrived in Franklin at the Bennett House to begin singing in English. Selena Quintanilla came to Tennessee to see lyricist Keith Thomas, whose history includes top hits like “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams’ and Amy Grant’s “Baby, Baby.”
During the time they spent together, they laughed, sang, and listened to rough versions of Thomas’ “I Could Fall in Love,” the song Selena was recording, on repeat. The team knew it was going to be a hit.
Selena Quintanilla was dead a week later.
On March 31, the previous president of Selena’s fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, shot her at a hotel in the back, ending the life of a talented young artist with unlimited potential.
Thomas said she would have been an idol. She did everything the right way to set herself up for a promising and successful future.
Selena Quintanilla was known as the Tejano music Queen at only 23 when she was recording with Thomas. She began as a child singing with her families band in Texas. She announced four solo albums, won the Best Mexican/American Album Grammy, and was ready to join the popular American pop scene by releasing her first album in English. One song on that record would have been Thomas’ dreamy ballad “I Could Fall in Love.”
Thomas did not know of her music, even with all of her success. However, that changed when she sent him a video of one of her concerts. He remembers hearing her sing while watching the video, and telling his manager that he had to give her a try.
Later, Selena Quintanilla arrived at the Bennett House while Wynonna Judd was also recording there. She was holding new Wal-Mart clothes because the airport lost her bags, and bags of groceries to cook for herself during her stay.
One day Wynonna saw Selena cooking and thought the young singer was the chef. Selena’s sibling A.B. Quintanilla says that Selena quickly corrected the country singer while continuing to cook her supper. Years later the two laughed about the misidentification at an award ceremony.
Thomas says Selena was just being herself, and he admires that about her. He felt an immediate connection with her beautiful smile and amazing voice. Thomas says she had a certain glow. Her smile is genuine and it feels like he knew her forever.
Selena went back to Texas after finishing the song, and she promised to come back in two weeks. Thomas was finalizing “I Could Fall in Love” when he found out that she was killed.
While in his studio looking at a picture of him and Selena in matching baseball hats, he said that the hardest part was having to finish the song knowing that she is no longer here. He says the world lost a talented, compassionate young woman who was beautiful in and out. He adds that she would have gone a long way in the music industry on many different levels.
Selena’s “Dreaming of You” album was released in July 1995 following her death. It was also on the Billboard top 200. The record’s opening song, “I Could Fall in Love,” became a huge hit. It was playing frequently at quinceañeras, proms, and many pop radio stations.
Many famous artists have covered her songs. From Selena Gomez (who was ironically named after Selena) to the band “Girl In A Coma.”
Her 1997 biography also began Jennifer Lopez’s music career. Selena’s amazing success also set the pace for the Latin trend in standard American pop music during the 1990’s throughout the 2000’s, where Shakira, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, and Marc Anthony also found success.
If she were still alive, there’s no saying what she would have accomplished, both as an artist and a businesswoman.
MAC Cosmetics is launching a collection of Selena-inspired items this weekend. Her fans drove the project. A petition of over 37,000 signatures was enough to persuade MAC to got on board. Selena had already launched Selena Etc. prior to her death. Selena Etc. is two botiques selling clothes she designed with beauty salons inside. Her next step would have been a cosmetics line.