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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16, 1971

Before I kick off another Tuesday Timeline, I need to say something.

By now, I'm sure that all of you have heard about the senseless tragedy that took place yesterday afternoon in Boston, Massachusetts at the 2013 Boston Marathon. At least two people were killed and hundreds more injured when a series of bombs were detonated near the finish line at the Boston Marathon. The actions that took place yesterday are barbaric and inexcusable, and I will never understand why someone would commit such a violent act at what is supposed to be a peaceful and joyous event.

I just wanted to take this time to offer my prayers to those who were in the Boston area the afternoon of April 15, 2013, and to those who either lost a loved one, or knew someone who was seriously wounded in the attacks, my deepest sympathies and condolences to all of you. I know it's of little comfort, but I just wanted to offer my public support to everyone affected by this tragedy.

And, now...on with the Tuesday Timeline for April 16.

We'll begin with those celebrities who are unwrapping birthday presents today. A very happy birthday to Pope Benedict XVI, Peter Mark Richman, Bobby Vinton, Ann Romney, Billy West, Peter Garrett (Midnight Oil), Ellen Barkin, Scott McKinsey, Jimmy Osmond, Jon Cryer, Martin Lawrence, Max Beesley, Peter Billingsley, Akon, Nick Pickard, Lukas Haas, Natalie Blair, and Claire Foy.

And, here are some of the happenings that have taken place throughout history on April 16...

73 A.D. - The Great Jewish Revolt comes to an end with the fall of Masada, a Jewish fortress

1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte drives Ottoman Turks across the River Jordan

1818 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the Rush-Bagot Treaty, which eventually establishes the border dividing the United States and what would become the nation of Canada

1881 – Bat Masterson fights his final gun battle in Dodge City, Kansas

1889 – Silent film star Charlie Chaplin is born in London

1912 – Harriet Quimby becomes the first female pilot to fly an airplane across the English Channel

1924 – Composer Henry Mancini is born in Cleveland, Ohio

1939 - Singer Dusty Springfield is born

1941 – Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller throws the only Opening Day no-hitter in the history of Major League Baseball

1945 – Nearly one million troops fight in the Battle of the Seelow Heights

1947 – Texas City, Texas catches on fire following an explosion on board a freighter docked at port, killing 600 people

1962 – Walter Kronkite assumes the lead anchor position for the CBS Evening News

1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes his Letter from Birmingham Jail

1990 – Dr. Jack Kevorkian participates in his first assisted suicide

2007 – 32 people are killed, and another 23 people are injured in the Virginia Tech shootings

For today's blog entry, we're going to take a look back on a singer who could have had it all. She was already an established starlet in the Tejano music market, and was looking at expanding her fanbase to the English speaking world. Tragically, her life was cut short in a senseless act of violence, and nearly twenty years later, people still wonder if she could have had as lengthy and successful career as other musical artists such as Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Lopez have had.

She was born on April 16, 1971. Had she lived, she would be turning 42 years old today. Unfortunately, she died less than three weeks before her twenty-fourth birthday.

This is the story of a young woman named Selena. All she wanted was to sing and to make people happy. And, I think that's why so many people were saddened and angry when in 1995, Selena was taken from the world in such a senseless and violent manner.

Born in Lake Jackson, Texas on April 16, 1971, Selena Quintanilla was the youngest of three children born to Marcella and Abraham Quintanilla Jr. She began singing at the age of three, and when the family relocated to Corpus Christi, Texas, Selena and her siblings performed at every public event they could book – from weddings, to quinceaneras (kind of similar to a Sweet 16 party except that in the Latino world, the fifteenth birthday is the most important teenage birthday for girls). Selena's popularity continued to rise to the point where she was constantly performing and touring, and when she was fourteen, her father pulled her out of school so she could perform and record music full-time.

Fear not though. Selena did earn her high school diploma by correspondence in 1988, when she was seventeen.

As luck would have it, the very year that Selena left school was the same year that Selena got her first break. In 1985, she recorded what would become her first album. Funny thing about it was that it took nearly a decade before the public would get a chance to listen to it. Her father was so proud of Selena's accomplishment that he bought every copy of the original album that was released at the time! It was later re-released in 1995 under the title Mis Primeras Grabaciones (My First Recordings). Shortly after that, Selena began releasing other albums – six in total – without having an official recording contract from a major record label!

Even more impressive was that she won the Best Female Vocalist Award at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards when she was just sixteen years of age! She would later win the same award for a consecutive NINE YEARS, three of which were awarded posthumously.

Is it any wonder that by the time the 1980s ended, Capitol/EMI became interested in signing Selena to a recording deal? Jose Behar signed her onto his label because he believed that she was going to be a huge star. He felt as though she could be the next Gloria Estefan.

Teaming up with her brother (Abraham Quintanilla III), Selena released the album Ven Conmigo (Come With Me) in 1990, which became the first album by a Tejano artist to reach Gold status.

INTERESTING FACT: Initially, the album cover was to be shot in colour, but Selena had dyed her hair black the night before, and some of the dye actually got on her face. The album cover became black and white to camouflage the mistake. Interesting what you can find out, huh?

1990 was also a rather interesting year for Selena, as two people would cross paths with her and change her life forever. One was Chris Perez, a man who she had met two years prior. When Selena's family hired him to play in her band, a spark flew between the two, and they immediately began dating. Unfortunately, Selena's father was completely against the pairing, and he even fired Chris from the band to keep him away from Selena! In time, Chris became accepted by the entire Quintanilla family, and the two married in April 1992.

Also in 1990, a woman by the name of Yolanda Saldivar approached Selena's father with the idea to start up an official fan club for Selena's fans. After hearing Yolanda's idea, Selena's father gave her the okay, and within the year, Yolanda became the president of Selena's official fan club, no questions asked.

It would only be five years later that Selena's father would come to realize that he was too hard on one person and tragically too lenient on the other.

Over the next four years, Selena's star continued to rise within the Latin American community. In 1992, Selena released the song, “Como La Flor”, which became a #1 hit on the Latin American charts, and in 1994, Selena's album Amor Prohibido (Forbidden Love) had sold 400,000 copies in the United States, was nominated for a Grammy Award, and had four #1 hits on the Latin American charts, including the one featured below.

ARTIST: Selena
SONG: Bidi Bidi Bom Bom
ALBUM: Amor Prohibido
DATE RELEASED: August 13, 1994

At the end of 1994, Selena was well on her way to becoming a talented, successful, wealthy young woman. In addition to her music, she had also opened up two boutiques under the name “Selena Inc.” (which Yolanda Saldivar managed), founded a successful clothing line, and began acting in telenovelas. She even had a bit part in the 1995 feature film, “Don Juan DeMarco”, where she played the role of a ranchera singer. She also began speaking at local schools and became involved with the D.A.R.E. Program, which increased her fan base. By the time 1995 rolled around, Selena was considering breaking into the mainstream pop music market with an English-language album, to see if she could have just as much success as she did in the Tejano music scene.

Unfortunately, Selena would not get a chance to live out her dream.

In the first three months of 1995, Selena began to grow suspicious of Yolanda Saldivar and her true intentions. On the surface, Yolanda appeared to be Selena's biggest fan and closest confidant. However, Yolanda was also stealing from the very person she adored the most. She was caught embezzling money from Selena's own fan club, and a hurt and betrayed Selena fired Saldivar from her job at the boutique, as well as from her role as president of her fan club. Just three weeks after she was fired, on March 31, 1995, Selena agreed to meet Saldivar in a Corpus Christi hotel room to retrieve financial records related to the time period in which Saldivar was alleged to have stolen the money. Saldivar had been refusing to hand Selena the documents and Selena was getting impatient. Saldivar was getting more and more desperate the more Selena asked, even going so far as to tell Selena that she had gotten raped in Mexico to hold off the handover! When that tactic failed, Selena once more asked Saldivar to hand over the financial papers.

And Saldivar responded by pulling out a gun and shooting Selena in her right shoulder. Wounded, Selina managed to run to the hotel lobby to try and get some help, but it was too late.

On March 31, 1995 at 1:05pm, Selena Quintanilla-Perez was dead at the age of 23. The cause of death was loss of blood due to the severing of a major artery caused by the bullet wound. Yolanda Saldivar was arrested for the murder of Selena Quintanilla, and was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after serving thirty years (or until the year 2025).

As for the aftermath of Selena's death, millions of people mourned her death all over the United States and Mexico, and some 60,000 people came out to pay their last respects to Selena. Several celebrities called the Quintanilla family to pay their respects, including Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Celia Cruz, and Madonna, just to name a few.

At the time of her death, the English language album had only been half completed, but in the summer of 1995, the English tracks that had been recorded were released along with the Spanish language songs that helped make Selena a star on the Latin Charts. The album was titled, “Dreaming of You”, and when it was released on July 18, 1995, it sold two million copies in one year! I imagine that many people who bought the album did so to honour their favourite singer, but I'll be the first to admit that I thought her songs were fantastic, and had a lot of heart and soul. We can only speculate what the full album would have sounded like, but I think that had Selena lived, she would have still had the same amount of success. It's just a shame that her life was cut too short.

In 1997, a feature film was made on Selena's life, with Jennifer Lopez taking on the role of Selena (I recommend this film as well, and Lopez does do a very convincing job). And in 2006, a life-size bronze statue of Selena was erected in Corpus Christi, along with a Selena museum.

But ultimately, the legend that Selena will be remembered most for is her music. And, as we close the book on April 16, 1971, let's close off this piece with one of my favourite Selena songs.

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