A legend, even in death, and a legacy that has grown immensely since her tragic passing, Selena Quintanilla Perez is considered a household name in most Latino homes. A rising star in the exploding genre of Tejano music, Selena captivated and stole the hearts of all who heard her music and witnessed her performances.
There was a special vibe that she put off and entertaining was her talent. Genuine, humble, beautiful and talented; those four characteristics came together and complemented the artist she would grow into and the superstar she would become.
One tragic March 31, 1995 in Corpus Christi, TX and on the brink of a successful crossover into mainstream pop music, her life was selfishly and abruptly cut short by one Yolanda Saldivar, her manager and longtime friend. This tragic and untimely passing cemented the legend that was Selena. The country grieved, her fans wept, and those who had just started falling in love with her talent and potential were left to wonder what would have been of her if she had lived.
Selena became a legend, her songs became a staple in the Latino community and her voice, her music became iconic. Her legacy has been immortalized and her impact on not only Latinos but American pop culture in general is pronounced.
Omega Delta Phi’s history became intertwined with the Queen of Tejano in 1993, two years prior to her tragic murder. The Theta Chapter at West Texas A&M University was invited by Los Barrios de Amarillo, a civic organization which promotes higher education and awards scholarship money to local students, to assist as security detail for a concert being hosted as a fundraiser by the non-profit.
The Theta Chapter brothers were assigned to security detail and were tasked with escorting Mrs. Quintanilla Perez from her tour bus to her dressing room, to and from the stage, and also served as crowd control for the young superstar at the Amarillo Civic Center.
“After the show, she taped an interview for a TV station out of Lubbock, TX and took time to sign autographs as well as take a photo with us” said Brother Joe Sotelo, a Theta Chapter founder.
A big part of Selena’s success with her fans and the growing multitude of people who followed her music was attributed to her genuine interest in being an artist of the people. Her humble demeanor and kind hearted and dynamic spirit allowed her to captivate a market where she only sang Spanish but did not fluently speak it. Mexico had a history of turning their backs on artists who did not speak their language but for Selena, that was a non-factor. Selena won them over and became a record breaking artist that was clamored and adored by the masses.
Her reach was limitless, she dabbled in fashion design, philanthropy, acting, and she began a highly strategized crossover into English music with her chart topping hits “I Can Fall in Love” and “Dreaming of You” which became the song with which her followers mourned her death
“She was truly down to earth” recalled Sotelo, of his interactions with the Tejano superstar.
Selena Quintanilla Perez is a name that most people would recognize if mentioned. Her lasting impact on Latino and American pop culture is undeniable and her history, at one point in her career, became intertwined with that of our beloved brotherhood. Uncovering these artifacts that complement the history of our organization is a beautiful thing and telling the stories behind these photographs is essential.
Selena’s legacy will carry on, twenty years after her death and even after that. Her story lives on, her reach and impact on the lives of so many of her fans embodies the type of artist and musician that she aspired to be: one who gave back and who celebrated her success with those who made her, those who she could not ignore and cast aside like many celebrities who reach success and forget about their fans.
Selena, como la flor que se marchito (like the flower that withered away) is an icon for so many of us that grew up with her music. She will be remembered as a trailblazer, an innovator, a compassionate and genuine artist of the pueblo who made her and catapulted her to unseen success, especially for a woman and in an industry and genre dominated, up til that point, by men. She will be remembered as the Tejano superstar who made the Theta Chapter of Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc. at West Texas A&M University very happy in 1993.
Listed in the photo are: back row standing(left to right): Ruben Garza, Abel Dela Cerda, SELENA, Rick Montelongo, Joe Ortiz(now part of Omega Chapter), and John Chavarria. Bottom Row l-r: Joe Gonzales, Tony Sotelo, Joe Sotelo, and Andres Antunez. Front bottom center is Auden Herrera.