On the day that would have marked the 47th Birthday of singer and pop culture icon Selena, we will be offering two opportunities to experience writer-director Gregory Nava’s 1997 biopic Selena on the big screen, free-of-charge and in celebration of a multi-talented, influential, and deeply beloved artist and cultural icon whose life was cut tragically short.
Actress Jennifer Lopez beat out an astonishing 22,000 other actresses, and ultimately received a Golden Globe nomination, for her star-making role as Selena Quintanilla, a Grammy-winning recording artist who became a major figure in Tejano music. A born talent whose gifts were recognized early by her musician father Abraham (Edward James Olmos), Selena (played as a child by Becky Lee Meza) spends her early years performing with his family-based band The Dinos. Influenced personally by American pop acts like Donna Summer, Selena begins to blend the music of her Tejano roots with pop-dance rhythms, a sound that her father at first finds challenging. As her music sparks a revolution in Latin music, the bond between Abraham and Selena is further tested when she falls in love with Chris Perez (Jon Seda), a rebellious and long-haired guitarist hired to play with the group. Ultimately Chris is accepted by her family, and after a long string of successes on the Latin charts, and concerts to massive sold-out audiences at both the Houston Astrodome and at a stadium in Monterey, Mexico, Selena began recording her first album in English, the release of which would have undoubtedly launched a major mainstream career on the level of Whitney Houston or Gloria Estefan.
On March 31, 1995, at only 23 years old, Selena was murdered at a Corpus Christi Motel, by the president of her fan club who had been embezzling money from her. Four months later, complemented by some previously released material and some unreleased English and Spanish-language tracks that were recorded between 1992 and 1995, Selena’s album was released posthumously by EMI on July 18, 1995. Coupled with her previous recordings, the legendary 13-track classic Dreaming of You ensured Selena’s incredible and immortal legacy with its immediate commercial and critical success, debuting atop the United States Billboard 200—the first predominately Spanish-language album to do so. Dreaming of You went on to make further history by selling 175,000 copies on its first day of release in the U.S., a then-record for a female vocalist; and selling 331,000 units in its first week, became the second-highest first-week sales for a female musician. Billboard magazine declared it a “historic” event, while Time recognized that the album elevated Selena’s music to a wider audience. It won Album of the Year at the 1996 Tejano Music Awards, and Female Pop Album of the Year at the 2nd annual Billboard Latin Music Awards. The album is among the top ten best-selling debuts for a musician, was the best-selling debut by a female act, and was the fastest-selling U.S. album of 1995.
With sales of over 2.942 million, it remains the best-selling Latin album of all-time in the U.S.
Selena’s impact on culture, style, and pop, dance, and international music cannot be overstated, nor can the impassioned fandom and love with which fans continue to listen to her music and celebrate her voice to this day. Gregory Nava’s film is very much a cinematic celebration and tribute to this truly wonderful and incomparable talent; we invite you to celebrate Selena with us, and be inspired by the remarkable true story of an artist who followed her heart, and revolutionized music forever.