Selena Quintanilla grew up in an English-speaking home in Texas. At the same time, she was a Latina who was very proud of her Mexican heritage and was deeply connected to her Spanish-speaking fans. Contrary to popular belief, Selena was not fluent in Spanish for most of her life, although the lyrics of many of her hits such as "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" and "Como La Flor" were in Spanish. Selena's complex identity can be difficult for some to understand, but it's second nature to the Latinx community.
When Selena became famous in Mexico and Latin America, the Tejano icon had to learn to speak more fluently in order to connect with her fan base. in the Selena: The seriesWe see Selena evolve from her English speaking roots to studying phonetic Spanish with her father through music. We even see TV host Johnny Canales joke that she couldn't speak Spanish when she first appeared on his show. A winced Selena laughed at the memory.
In his memoir To Selena with loveSelena's husband and guitarist Chris Pérez described how the young couple struggled to learn Spanish. In an excerpt from the book, Pérez recounts how "Mexico was the logical place to start our international commercial flash. We already had a fan base there and could easily drive from Texas to the shows. Of course, none of us fully realized this." How nerve-wracking it would be to move from relatively small venues in the US to large amphitheaters and conduct interviews in Spanish in Mexico. "Since both Texans were born and raised, the component of having to speak fluent Spanish for interviews was more than fearful. Pérez describes how he gets help practicing his name and instrument and how" Selena rose to the challenge. " He continues: "She was the one who really felt the pressure of the media because everyone in Mexico knew her not only from her music but also from the Coca-Cola commercials. It was already very popular in this country and there were crowds of people everywhere. "We went" – so it was crucial to know the language.
In his memoir, Pérez makes it clear that "As a third-generation Texan who had to learn Spanish phonetically and her father trained her with her accent, (Selena) knew that Mexican fans could potentially fire her. Instead, they adored everything about her, From her dark hair and brown eyes to her curvy figure. Fans saw Selena's sincerity and generosity and felt her love for them. "Selena was as passionate as ever and surprised everyone with her language skills.
Pérez goes on to describe how Selena told him she was going to "learn Spanish and surprise everyone," which she did. Soon, Selena's Spanish jumped one level up and became fluent. Although Selena didn't grow up with the language, she in some ways fueled her love of singing in Spanish and her fans.