Play some cumbia and get ready to celebrate: Tejano star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez may be getting an official day of recognition, thanks to a bill filed in the state House on February 26. Authored by Dallas Democrat Ana-Maria Ramos, House Bill 2492 would designate Selena’s birthday on April 16 “Selena Quintanilla-Pérez Day.”
Since her death at 23 years old, the “Como La Flor” singer has been immortalized through a number of projects, including a 1997 biopic starring Jennifer Lopez, a MAC lipstick collection, and H-E-B bags that sold out within minutes of hitting the shelves in March of 2018. She was even officially remembered through “Selena Day” on April 16, 1995, which was declared by then-Governor George W. Bush a few weeks after her death. But the legislation proposed by Ramos would make “Selena Day” an annual occasion for celebrating her legacy and role in Texas culture.
The proposed bill states: “April 16 is Selena Quintanilla Perez Day in memory of the contributions to Tejano music of Selena Quintanilla Pérez, an award-winning singer and recording artist. Selena Quintanilla Peréz Day may be regularly observed by appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
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Selena’s impact on Texas music and culture is undeniable. Her music crossed genres and broke barriers, climbing to the top of Latin charts that were typically dominated by men. Over the course of her thirteen-year career, Quintanilla-Pérez received 36 Tejano Music Awards and one Grammy, and released two of the top five highest-selling Latin albums in the U.S.
For her fans, recognizing Selena with an official day would celebrate how she represented the mix of cultures that has uniquely shaped Texas. Tatiana Salazar grew up in San Antonio watching Selena perform on the Johnny Canales Show and hearing her music on the radio at school. “Selena was just like us,” she says. “We never saw Mexican-American girls on TV or as famous singers. Her culture, her talents, and her fashion sense were the perfect formula for something iconic.” For Salazar and other fans, an official Selena Day would encourage new generations of Texans to understand the legacy she left behind.
Many on social media were excited at the thought of the celebration, but some have voiced their concerns that other Texas music icons are being forgotten. Among calls for a “George Strait Day” and a “Stevie Ray Vaughan Day,” Vivi Huerta suggested her uncle, Tejano legend Freddy Fender. Though Huerta admits she’s biased and isn’t much of a fan of state holidays for musicians, she says that if the state honors Selena, they should honor Fender’s contributions the Tejano genre as well.
“My uncle’s lasting impact on Texas music is that he opened the doors for future artists,” she says. “Freddy Fender is not just known in Texas or the U.S., he was an internationally recognized performer. That’s not too bad for a young kid out of San Benito, Texas.”
House Bill 2492 still needs to be voted out of its committee before going up for a vote in the state House. If it passes, it’ll make its way through the state Senate before Governor Abbott can sign it into law. Though the bill is still in early stages, it could pave the way for the cultural contributions of other Texans to be recognized. For Representative Ramos, Selena was an ideal first candidate. “Selena was an inspiration to the Hispanic community and to all of the state of Texas,” says Ramos.