Selena would have been 47 years old today

Selena was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator, Mary Claire Patton - Digital Content Curator, Katia Hetter, CNN
Copyright (c) 2018 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SAN ANTONIO - Today marks what would have been Selena Quintanilla-Perez's 47th birthday.

Selena was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, which is located near Houston.

Selena debuted in the music scene in 1980 and was a rising star until her death in 1995.

At 23-years-old, Selena broke concert and attendance records at home and abroad.

She became the first Latino singer to debut at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

Selena continues to inspire many artists across all music genres.

She made international headlines when she was murdered by Yolanda Saldivar, the founder of the Selena fan club.

Her memory and legacy are honored at the annual Fiesta de la Flor festival in Corpus Christi. Below are some facts you may have not known about the superstar Tejano singer.

Selena started singing at a young age and won awards early in her career

She started singing Tejano music in her father's restaurant in Lake Jackson. Her father Abraham taught the family band and named them Los Dinos after his own group from earlier years.

Selena was only 15 when she won female entertainer of the year at the Tejano Music Awards. In 1994, she won a Grammy for best Mexican-American album for "Selena Live!” Her English-language album was months from release when she was shot and killed.

Selena had to learn to speak Spanish

Selena didn't grow up speaking Spanish and neither did her husband, Chris Perez, who played guitar in her band and fell in love with her on the road.

In his book, "To Selena, with Love," Perez said they practiced speaking Spanish before their first big publicity blitz in Mexico.

"In Mexico, Selena mangled her conversations in Spanish like the rest of us, but not for long,” Perez wrote.

"She said, 'It'll be cool. You watch. I'm going to learn Spanish and surprise everybody,'" Perez said. "She got better and better, to the point where I'd have to ask her to slow down so that I could understand what she was saying."

She sold out the Astrodome

Selena performed several times at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Astrodome to sold-out crowds of more than 60,000.

"We had 20 performances this year," Leroy Shafer, assistant general manager of the show, told the New York Times in 1995. "We had Reba McEntire, George Strait, Clint Black and Vince Gill. She had the highest-selling show concert at our show this year, at 61,041 in the Astrodome."

Her crossover album went to No. 1

Her 1995 crossover album, "Dreaming of You," went to the top of the Billboard 200 in its first week of release. She was the first Latin artist to debut atop the list. 

"There were supposed to be 14 tracks, but we had only recorded four of them, so we put together a tribute album of new and old songs," Nancy Brennan, then-vice president of A&R at EMI, told Texas Monthly. 

"Making that album was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, because we were listening to her voice all day and crying as we were mixing the songs."

"Selena" (the movie) ignited Jennifer Lopez's career

Starring as Selena in the 1997 movie of the same name, Lopez became the first Latina actress to be paid $1 million for a movie role. Lopez was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

“Playing her not only opened doors for me in the film world, but it inspired me to start my own music career,” Lopez said. “In a lot of ways, I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had that experience."

Selena's killer is eligible for parole in 2025

Yolanda Saldivar, the president of Selena's fan club, was sentenced to life in prison in October 1995 for Selena's murder. Saldivar must serve at least 30 years of her sentence before she is eligible for parole.

Selena was to meet with Saldivar at a Corpus Christi motel to discuss her concerns that Saldivar had embezzled money from her when Saldivar shot her, according to trial testimony. Saldivar argued that she accidentally fired the shot, but the jury didn't buy it.

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