Who Is Selena Quintanilla, Today’s Google Doodle?
Today, we celebrate Selena Quintanilla: Mexican-American music and entertainment icon, fashion trendsetter, passionate entrepreneur and community philanthropist.
Google premiered their first-ever Selena Quintanilla Google Doodle on Tuesday, October 17, to celebrate her life and legacy.
Born in Lake Jackson, Texas on April 16, 1971, Selena’s talent shone from an early age.
She was strumming Nat King Cole’s “I’m in the Mood for Love” on guitar, while her father listened and realised that she had a bright future ahead of her.
With encouragement from their father, nine-year-old Selena and her older siblings, A.B. (guitar) and Suzette (drums), formed the beginnings of the Tejano sensation, Selena y Los Dinos.
Born in Texas, Tejano music (or “Tex-Mex”) blends Mexican and American sub-genres like pop, polka, ranchera, and cumbia. Widely popular across the TX/Mexico border since the 1800s, Selena y Los Dinos’ infectious brand of Tejano music popularized the genre to audiences globally.
The band started off playing at the family restaurant, quiceañeras, and fairs, sitting on equipment due to the lack of formal seating in their inaugural tour bus “Big Bertha”, and then eventually progressing to high profile touring.
The band fought through hard times and adversity. Selena was frequently discriminated against in the male-dominated music genre, and some venues even refused to book the band for shows. Despite all this, Selena’s talent, energy, and perseverance easily won the hearts of a rapidly growing fan base.
Once Selena went solo, she recorded five albums, selling millions of copies worldwide.; the last, which was released after her death, became her first No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
In 1986, she was awarded the Tejano Music award for “Female Vocalist of the Year”, catapulting Selena y los Dinos to Tejano stardom. Other milestones followed, solidifying Selena’s legacy as “The Queen of Tejano”. She released her first studio album with Capitol EMI (self-titled “Selena”) on this day in 1989, consistently straddled the top of the Billboard charts, and won a Grammy for best Mexican/American album of 1993 — the first female and youngest Tejano artist to win the award.
Selena was much more than a talented musician. She often designed and created entire outfits for her performances. In her free time, she was active in community service and was also a strong advocate for education.
Selena became a beacon of inspiration and hope for the Latinx, immigrant, and bicultural communities around the globe. Her story of embracing and celebrating all parts of her cultural heritage and persevering in the face of adversity forged an emotional connection with millions.
Selena’s songs incorporated elements of many different genres including R&B, Latin pop, technopop, country and western, and disco. Her songs often had themes related to female empowerment and being independent. She also recorded songs that touched upon issues like inappropriate relationships and recovery from domestic violence.
Selena was murdered on March 31, 1995. Yolanda Saldivar, who was Selena’s fan club president and manager of her boutiques, shot her during an argument about embezzlement. This came at a time where Selena had begun recording music in English, bringing many to believe that she was on the verge of breaking out as a Spanish and English crossover artist.
In 1997, a biopic of Selena’s life was released, starring Jennifer Lopez as Selena. The film has grossed over $35 million and is the ninth-highest grossing musical biopic of all time. Lopez received acclaim for her performance and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Perla Campos, Global Marketing Lead for Google Doodles and project manager for the Selena Quintanilla Google Doodle told Billboard in an exclusive interview:
“I grew up as the daughter of a Mexican immigrant single mom living in a small (primarily white) town outside of Fort Worth, Texas. There were always two women who taught me I could do anything and be anything I set my mind to: my mom and Selena. Selena has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
Both Campos and Quintanilla were raised in Mexican families in small towns in Texas. Despite the societal constraints regarding what it meant to be a Hispanic woman in a white community, these women managed to beat the odds.
“One of my dearest childhood memories is of my mom and I belting Bidi Bidi Bom Bom and Techno Cumbia in the family van during our annual road trips to Mexico. I even sang Selena classics in talent shows across northeast Texas.
“Aside from incredible dance moves and how to belt some serious notes, watching Selena taught me that being Latina was a powerful thing, and that with hard work and focus I could do whatever I set my mind to.
“She continues to show Latinx, immigrants, and bicultural communities around the world to be proud of who they are and to embrace their differences. Also, to work hard for your dreams because doing so makes your achievements that much more meaningful.
“So the best thing I can say is thank you, Selena. Thank you for being a role model and a hero to a little Latina girl in Granbury, Texas. Thank you for teaching her that she could dream big and make it. And thank you for all the inspiration and joy your music and legacy continues to bring to the world.”
For two years, Campos, illustrator and Art Lead Kevin Laughlin, and their team worked tirelessly with the designers, animators, and, Quintanilla’s family, to ensure the Doodle told the iconic singer’s story in a way that reflected the spirit of being a cross-over star.
To view an interactive, curated Google museum about Selena Quintanilla, click here.
To hear even more about Selena’s life, legacy and the process of today’s Doodle, check out this Talk at Google with Suzette, hosted at the offices of Google San Francisco.