Selena Quintanilla was a rising and well-loved star at the time of her death. She was only 23 years old when she sang her last. It has been two decades since her passing and still, her tragic death remains one of the saddest days in music history.
In fact, Selena Quintanilla’s funeral reminded everyone that La Reina de Tejano had cultivated a strong fan base in a few short years. In fact, many fans still visit Selena’s grave. While her funeral was a private affair, Selena’s family hosted a public viewing and memorial to give her fans the opportunity to pay their respects.
It has been more than a decade since 1995 and the memory of Selena Quintanilla’s funeral (from her outfit and makeup to the aftermath) is still fresh for many fans. After all, it was a somber affair. Here’s an overview of what happened and how people reacted to her passing.
How Did Selena Die?
A month before her passing, Selena was at the top of her career ladder. She had just performed for more than 60,000 fans at the Houston Astrodome (of course, she was in her iconic purple outfit). A few days later, the Tejano singer attended her second Grammy Awards for the nomination of her album Amor Prohibido for Best Mexican-American Performance. On top of these, she was recording her song “I Could Fall In Love.”
Outside of her musical career, Selena was planning on expanding her boutique brand, Selena Etc with stores in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Texas.
But in March 1995, the singer and her family discovered that her fashion brand and fan club were experiencing financial problems. They accused Yolanda Saldívar, the former president of Selena’s fan club and manager of the boutiques, of not sending fans the items they paid for. She was also accused of embezzling $30,000.
In yet another attempt to recover the records, Selena visited Saldívar at the Days Inn Motel where they argued. The argument ended with Saldívar shooting the singer in the back with a revolver. The bullet shattered an artery before it exited her chest, which impacted Quintanilla’s brain function. Still, she managed to run into the motel’s lobby while being chased by Saldívar.
Before passing away, she gave witnesses Saldívar’s name and motel room number. She was rushed to the Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
Saldívar was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Over the years, she has insisted that she’s innocent and continuously files for appeals.
The sudden loss of the Tejano singer was so tragic that many fans were in disbelief at first. It was similar to when the Beatles’ singer John Lennon died: no one wanted to believe that their idol was gone.
Where Was Selena Quintanilla’s Funeral?
Before Selena Quintanilla’s actual funeral, her family planned for public viewing at the Bayfront Convention Center to accommodate grieving fans. The Tejano star’s public funeral was visited by more than 60,000 fans. People who loved Selena flooded the convention center grounds to pay their respects.
Originally, the family wanted to keep her casket closed. However, there were rumors that the singer didn’t pass away and was hiding somewhere, alive and well. This convinced the family to make the decision to open her casket. According to reports, the singer’s casket was covered with a stack of roses to commemorate her. With an hour left after the visitation hours ended, the family opened Selena’s casket for everyone to see.
What Did Selena Wear in Her Coffin?
When they opened the casket, everyone saw their beloved singer dressed in her iconic purple outfit. Selena Quintanilla’s funeral outfit was chosen by her mother, Marcella Zamora. It was a purple pantsuit matched with a bullfighter-type jacket — complete with the shoulder pads. It was an outfit that Selena wore to The Fact Music Awards (TMA) gala months before her murder.
As for her makeup, Selena Quintanilla looked as Selena as she could be, with her eyebrows perfect and her lips colored her trademark red. Despite the tragic nature of her passing, in death, she looked as if she was just asleep.
Where Was Selena Buried?
A private funeral for Selena Quintanilla followed her public memorial viewing. Her husband, Chris Perez, wanted the funeral to be amongst her loved ones only, especially since her death was especially tragic to him. She died a few days away from their third wedding anniversary.
Together with Chris, the Quintanilla family buried Selena in a private ceremony at Seaside Memorial Cemetery. To make sure her fans were still with them despite the ceremony’s private nature, Selena’s burial was broadcasted live. People watched as the guests piled white roses on top of her coffin to pay their respects. Outside of the cemetery, more than 600 people gathered to grieve with the family.
How Did People Memorialize Selena Quintanilla?
After her death, fans expressed their grief through different memorials. These include:
The Selena Museum
Fans who travel to Corpus Christi always add The Selena Museum to their itineraries. Selena’s family built the museum to memorialize the Tejano singer and let fans learn more about her rise to stardom and her legacy.
The museum features many of Selena Quintanilla’s iconic outfits, as well as other memorabilia. If you’re a Selena fan but don’t have the time to visit the museum, you can visit it online through Google Arts & Culture.
Mirador de la Flor
Known as Overlook of the Flower, Mirador de la Flor is a life-size statue of Selena in Corpus Christi. The figure, which was sculpted by H.W. Tatus, attracts more than 30,000 visitors a year.
If you walk around Corpus Christi, you’ll see many beautiful murals depicting the Tex-Mex singer. But Corpus Christi isn’t the only place to find portraits of Selena. If you go to Los Angeles, you’ll also see Selena Quintanilla murals around the city.
Selena Quintanilla’s Funeral: A Painful Goodbye
Selena Quintanilla’s funeral was a tragic reminder of the early passing of a great and well-beloved star. But her funeral gave people the time to grieve her loss and celebrate her life. It didn’t bring her back, but fans had the opportunity to remember who she was and how she impacted their lives.