Remembering 'Queen of Tejano' Selena, 17 years after her untimely death

I was really young when the world lost Mexican superstar Selena Quintanilla. Although it has been 17 years since her death at the hands of crazed fan Yolanda Saldivar, the world still mourns her passing.

Selena was young when she died. She was just a couple of weeks away from her 24th birthday but, even at her young age, she was very accomplished. She had chart-topping Spanish songs, like "Amor Prohibido" and "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" and had just finished recording her English crossover album, Dreaming of You. But sadly she was not alive for its release in July 1995. And although it's been a long time since her passing, I still miss the "Queen of Tejano" music.

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Selena means different things to everyone. We all have a different connection to her songs, to her life, to her death and to what has happened since. For me, she was my first introduction to American culture, which is funny considering that the songs I fell in love with were all in Spanish. But it was 1994 and my Cuban family had just emigrated to Miami, Florida. Selena makes up a lot of my early memories, since her music helped to connect me to my new home.

Although I had only known her for a year, I still grieved Selena's death. In the years that followed, I discovered more of her music and her life, like through the 1997 biopic Selena starring then newcomer Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos as Selena's father Abraham. As with the posthumous release of her first (and only) English album, the movie helped a lot of non-Spanish speaking Americans, like a lot of my friends at the time, discover Selena and her beautiful music.

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As I rewatched the movie this weekend, on the official anniversary of her death, and get ready for the release of Enamorada de Ti, a new CD with duet tributes by some of our favorites who have come after Selena, I think about the impact that she has had on my life and the lives of others. We wouldn't be remembering her with such sadness almost two decades later if she hadn't meant the world to so many. With so many crossover Latin celebrities that came after her, like Ricky Martin, Shakira and Marc Anthony, she was truly the first. That's why she will always be in our hearts, the one and only true "Queen of Tejano" music.

How do you remember Selena? Do you still listen to her music or watch the biopic of her life?

Image via AP