Photos by Jonathan Olivares
It’s been 20 years since singer Selena Quintanilla was murdered, but her image and spirit were alive at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes on Friday.
The late star’s music moved the hips and bodies of more than 500 hundred people, all gathered for an anniversary tribute at the Los Angeles museum. Voices could be heard in harmony as fans sang Selena’s top hits, including ‘Bidi Bidi Bom Bom’.
“She was one of us, so we fell in love with her,” said Olga Contreras, recounting the memories of growing up in San Antonio, Texas.
The retired grandmother attended the event with her daughter and proud granddaughter, dressed up in her best Selena outfit. “My granddaughter was only five years old when she began to want everything Selena.”
Fans, young and old came to celebrate the life and legacy of the Grammy-winning performer, stepping on stage for karaoke and partaking in do-it-yourself workshops. Kids relished in adorning glittery microphones similar to the singer’s, and long lines of people formed waiting to screen-print a graphic of Selena’s face on their blank shirts.
Born and raised in Lake Jackson, Texas, Selena’s energetic performances along with her Tex-Mex pop sound made an impact on the lives of many Latinos across the nation. Her early death at 23, which came as she prepared to record her first English-language album, was a tragedy. But even after her death, Selena continues to represent success and strength for thousands of fans, including those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBT) community.
“She is a gay icon. Her fabulousness, her music, and sense of familia, brought a lot of queer Chicanos to like her,” said Rudy, 36, an artist from Silver Lake. “She looked like the girls we grew up with. That meant a lot.”