03/31/96

In the spirit of Selena

Tributes, a book and an impending film testify to the Tejano singer's enduring

Houston Chronicle Staff

A year after her death, the spirit of Selena Quintanilla Perez still pervades Tejano music, and her admirers still mourn her loss.

On March 31, 1995, Selena Quintanilla Perez, Tejano music's la reina del pueblo, was shot and killed in Corpus Christi.

Fans first reacted with disbelief, then with a massive display of adoration. Signs appeared in cars declaring ""We love you, Selena!" and ""Con tanto amor." Churches hastily organized prayer vigils, Tejano radio stations played Selena's music around the clock and record stores sold out of her albums.

In the weeks following her death, thousands of mourners from Texas, Mexico and points farther made the pilgrimage to Corpus Christi to pay their last respects.

The Days Inn motel where Selena was shot became a shrine to her memory. Flowers and cards covered the fence surrounding the house where Selena lived with her husband, Chris Perez. Every evening, cemetery workers had to cart away truckloads of cards and flowers from her grave at Corpus Christi's Seaside Memorial Park.

A year later, the intensity has subsided, but the mourning continues. Interest in Selena's life and music remains high:

Today, KQQK (106.5-FM) radio will host a memorial tribute to Selena at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 7539 Avenue K (near 76th Street and Navigation) in East Houston. The tribute will begin at 3 p.m., with the Rev. Frank Quezada offering words and a prayer.

"Dreaming of You", her posthumously released pop-crossover album, has sold more than 2 million copies. It's still on the charts eight months after its release.

"Selena: Como la Flor" (Little, Brown, $22.95), an unauthorized biography by Texas journalist Joe Nick Patoski, hits bookstores today. (Today the Chronicle is running the first of two excerpts from Selena: Como la Flor. The second will appear in Monday's Houston section.)

Production is set to begin in May on a movie based on the singer's life. Her father, Abraham Quintanilla, is producing the film.


Selena's Legacy.
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