Most everyone knows of the senseless tragedy that cut Selena Quintanilla’s life way too short.

But what many don’t realize is the sheer amount of success Selena enjoyed while she was alive, or the fact that she was truly an icon to the Latin community.

Consider this – in just 23 years on this earth, Selena had seven number one hits and fourteen top ten hits on the Hot Latin Songs Chart, was called the “Queen of Tejano Music” and the “Mexican Madonna.”

To understand how she achieved such mind blowing accolades in such a short amount of time, we must go back to her upbringing.

Singing for fun by the age of three, Selena mainly grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was in a music group by the age of nine called “Selena y Los Dinos” (Selena and the Guys), which was formed by her father. He owned a family restaurant at the time and she served as the lead vocalist. The group played for fun at the restaurant and later, all around the state of Texas. In fact, though she received good grades in school, Selena was out of the public school system by mid junior high school and home schooled as she traveled doing shows.

Right around that time (1984), at the age of thirteen, Selena y Los Dinos had their first album come out, though it wasn’t released in stores (at that time). It would be the first of seven albums released by Selena y Los Dinos.

By album number four in 1987, Selena was officially “on the map” and would never look back, as her grassroots success lead her to achieve “Best Female Vocalist” at the Tejano Music Awards.

Eventually, EMI Record Label caught on to Selena and signed her in 1989. They didn’t want to continue the “Los Dinos” moniker and instead, launched her as simply “Selena.”

Fast forward to March of 1995, when Selena has now had twelve albums (five under her own name) and is about to achieve one of her big dreams – to truly be launched in America. The album “Dreaming of You” is ready for a summer release and will be pushed to U.S. Pop radio.

Selena has recently made a cameo appearance in the movie “Don Juan De Marco” with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando (with a ’90’s hit by Bryan Adams on the soundtrack, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?”). Overall, life is great.

However, there is one small snag – Selena and her family have grown highly suspicious of fan club manager Yolanda Saldivar, who they believe has been embezzling money from the fan club.

Selena considers Yolanda a good friend and doesn’t believe the accusations at first. However, as the days pass, it becomes clear they are true, and Selena requests a visit with Yolanda on March 30th, 1995. Saldivar pushes it back to the next day, March 31st.

That morning, Selena kisses her husband goodbye, drives to the Days Inn of Corpus Christi and arrives at Saldivar’s hotel room to retrieve tax documents and try to smooth over the ordeal. Saldivar is very emotional and tells Selena she was raped in Mexico and needs medical attention. Selena drives her to a local hospital, where they find no evidence of the claim.

Once back at the hotel and in Saldivar’s room, Selena once again asks for the tax documents and when Saldivar refuses, Selena tells the embattled fan club manager that she can no longer be trusted.

As she turns to leave the hotel room at 11:49 A.M., Saldivar withdraws a gun and shoots Selena in the right shoulder. It will later be determined that a crucial artery has been hit, but at the time she is shot, Selena thinks about nothing else but getting to help. She is able to leave the room and escape Saldivar, fleeing by the outdoor swimming pool and all the way to the hotel lobby. Once there, she asks the front desk to call 911 and identifies Saldivar as the shooter.

Selena is rushed to a hospital minutes later but it ends up being too late – she is pronounced dead at 1:05 P.M. on March 31st, 1995.

Saldivar continues her cowardly acts by beginning a ten hour police standoff in the parking lot of the hotel while she sits with a gun to her head in her truck. She is ultimately apprehended without incident and is sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after thirty years. To this day, she claims the shooting was an “accident” and that she has a clean conscious because she knows “the truth.”

Two weeks after the murder, George W. Bush, who is the governor of Texas, declares it “Selena Day.”

By July, Selena’s dream comes true, as the first single is released to pop radio in the U.S. and goes to #8 (“If I Could Fall In Love”). The song will spend twenty one weeks on the chart.

By October, single number two is released to pop radio, “Dreaming of You,” and spends thirteen weeks on the chart with a peak of #22.

In 1997, Jennifer Lopez stars in the movie “Selena.”

In 2005, Reliant Stadium in Houston hosts a tribute concert to Selena, in which 65,000 fans showed up.

And today, Selena has as active of a fan base as any in Latin music.

There is no telling how many hits Selena could have had, on both charts, had her life not been so tragically taken.

Furthermore, there is no telling how big of an impact Selena could have truly had on the world, as she was just getting to be a true ambassador for various charities and organizations at the time she passed away. I imagine her truly making a difference today and helping to motivate her fans to better themselves and the world. I never met or talked with Selena, but I almost feel like I know her through the music and legacy she left. She seems to me a star who never forgot where she came from or that she could use her fame to help people.

Check Selena’s “Dreaming of You” Video below

Until Next Time – Dave O