by Joey Guerra
Daily Cougar Staff
The voice was unmistakable.
"That's Selena!" I exclaimed, not attempting to hide my surprise or delight. Sure enough, the sensual, rich voice playing across the club dance floor belonged to Selena, and in that moment, my joy waned a little as I realized the person singing was dead.
It was just over a year ago when the Tejano queen was killed outside a Days Inn in San Antonio, and it was just over a year ago that something amazing happened.
With that tragic occurrence, Tejano and Spanish music in general, were revitalized and put into the spotlight like never before.
Sure, there have been countless articles, interviews, books and even a soon-to-come movie, but to those who knew Selena and her music before the astonishing fame, there was nothing surprising about any of it.
Selena was a role model for Hispanic youth everywhere, and her music helped break the Tejano sound (a mixture of country, traditional and polka) wide open around the world.
Today, many may be dismayed or sorely tired of the constant barrage of Selena tidbits found ... just about everywhere. What people often forget, though, is that this young, beautiful singer was a hidden treasure, a star in the making silenced all too soon.
Since her untimely death, Selena has achieved near-legendary status. Countless numbers of fans (and curiosity-seekers) have visited the sight of her death, the grave and Selena's clothing boutique in San Antonio. Many have equated the impact of the sultry songstress' death to that of Elvis Presley or Jimi Hendrix.
The comparison is not unfounded. Selena, like those artists, pioneered a type of music, helping it evolve from a traditional genre to a more updated, pop sound. Selena brought Tejano music to the forefront and posted platinum sales of her album, Amor Prohibido, even before her death.
Selena's appearance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo also set the record with attendance at over 64,000 for a single show.
Sadly, Selena's biggest success came posthumously. Her album, Dreaming of You, entered Billboard's Hot 200 Album Chart at number one, making her one of only four female artists to accomplish this feat in music history. (Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey are the other three.) The album has currently sold over 4 million copies worldwide and spawned a Top 40 single in the title track.
Most recently, a compilation of songs from the award-winning musical West Side Story included Selena's final recording, her cover of "A Boy Like That." The song was remade into a dance track, and features possibly Selena's best vocal work to date. Clubs around the country are adding the song to their playlists, which sparkles with sarcasm and Selena's trademark blend of innocence and sensuality.
But the story of Selena is about more than record sales. Having been fortunate enough to see Selena perform live many times, her magic was in the way she lit up the stage, whether it was at a small local club or at her show-stopping performance at the rodeo last February. Selena had a love for the music, for the lights, and for the audience, and the audience loved her. It's hard to recall a more energetic and endearing performer.
With the upcoming film documenting her meteoric career, the rest of the world may get a glimpse of Selena's youthful energy and love of life. Regardless of which actress takes on the plum role, it will be hard to truly capture the spirit of Selena, which will live on in the hearts of her fans and her family forever.
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