When Tom Brokaw referred to Selena Quintanilla as the “Mexican Madonna” in 1997, his comment not only highlighted the notoriety she had gained outside the confines of mainstream pop music, but also alluded to the influence her career would eventually have on a generation of Latino superstars. From Jennifer Lopez to Shakira, the professional trajectories of their musical careers owe a debt of gratitude to Selena’s legacy. And fifteen years after Selena’s untimely death, she still reigns supreme as the “Queen of Tejano Music.”
On March 9, 2010, EMI released La Leyenda, a commemorative box set of Selena’s work, in collaboration with the Quintanilla family. Spanning four CDs, La Leyenda gathers 82 tracks and groups them by musical style and language. As part of the promotional campaign for EMI’s special release, Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla, squeezed some time out of her busy schedule to settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry – reflecting on Selena’s attachment to white roses, behind-the-scenes schooling, and alternative recording of “Where Did the Feeling Go?”
March 31, 1995, is a day that will live forever in the hearts and minds of music lovers around the world. I can’t believe it’s been fifteen years, and I still remember the emotional response that surrounded Selena’s death. I know that La Leyenda is a joint project between Capitol EMI and Q-Productions, but would you mind telling me how this project came about?
This project came about last year, around August or so. EMI came to us, and Greta Nodar, she’s in charge of special packaging and promotions, wanted to do something special to mark—not the fifteen years of Selena passing—but more so, something to celebrate her life and her legacy. Fifteen years later, she’s very much alive in everybody’s heart, in their memories. And she’s still being played on the radio. And she’s very much still a very important role model – fifteen years later. And so, with that being said, we thought that EMI had a great idea.
As you were preparing this box set, what elements received special consideration?
Well, EMI asked: “What do you think should be included in this box set – something different to make it stand out?” And of course, the one most important thing that Selena loved the most, other than doing music, was her fans. And so we asked her fans, on Selena’s MySpace, to send in any type of message about Selena, or to her; and we included all that we could in the box set. And so, that’s what happened. I think the thirty-page booklet is the best thing about the whole box set. I’ve read every message that’s in there. And the underlying focus of pretty much every message is the fact that they looked up to my sister. They still love her very much. And in small and big ways, she inspired them in some way, throughout their life. On top of all that, the box set contains four discs, and EMI categorized the music in a really cool way. Disc 1 is all pop; Disc 2 is all Tejano and ranchera; Disc 3 is, of course, all the English music; and then Disc 4 is the live stuff. I don’t believe EMI has ever released anything like that – especially for Selena. It’s so different from a lot of the other greatest hits packages that you see. And there’s this really beautiful charm included, too, with her name in black and gold, which is really cool.