Remembering Selena, 20 Years After Her Tragic Death

The singer was killed by Yolanda Saldévar on March 31, 1995

Photo: Pam Francis/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Selena Quintanilla, “The Queen of Tejano,” was killed by her fan club’s president, Yolanda Saldévar, on March 31, 1995.

Twenty years later, her fans continue to hold up the superstar’s work and honor her memory.

“It’s crazy. It grows every day with events everywhere, but we’re not organizing them,” Selena’s father Abraham told the Associated Press. “Our family never got together every year on the day of her murder, because there’s nothing to celebrate, and this year won’t be the exception,” he added.

As Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Quintanillas do not celebrate deaths or birthdays, but, says Abraham, “We remember our daughter every single day. We don’t need a special day to remember her.”

And that also hasn’t stopped fans across the world from Tweeting pictures and remembrances – in Spanish and English – or posting their favorite songs. Dreaming of You, Selena’s final album, topped the Billboard 200 chart and the Latin charts for nine months after her death, selling more than 2 million copies.

One prominent fan, The Real host Adrienne Bailon, performed Selena’s hit “I Could Fall in Love” to close the show’s episode airing on Tuesday.

“Twenty years ago we lost the woman I consider my idol,” Bailon said. “[Selena] single-handedly put Tejano music on the mainstream map and she’s the reason I am who I am today.”

Jennifer Lopez, who portrayed the singer in the singer’s eponymous 1997 biopic, has long been vocal about Selena’s influence on her, telling Billboard she admired “The grace with which she handled the business, the grace with which she handled her life,” and “Her spirit of loving what she did. [And] her sense of family.”

Selena’s father Abraham has given his blessing to one event held in his daughter’s honor: The Festival de la Flor, which features members of the singer’s family performing. Held in Corpus Christi, Texas from April 17-18 (Selena’s birthday was April 16, 1971), where the singer launched her career, the event is expected to draw 50,000 attendees.

Selena’s talent crossed all boundaries: One of the many fan sites dedicated to her, SelenaForever, was started by Toronto, Canada, native John Wood in 2004. Despite not being of Hispanic background and not speaking Spanish, Wood told NBC News that the singer’s Spanish songs are his favorite.

“Her kindness came through immediately in her videos. You could see how she treated her fans with such respect and how she truly loved them,” said Wood. “She is someone who deserves to be remembered, because she was a great role model,” he continued.

“Her tragic death was a flashpoint in time,” George Reynoso, owner of the music store All That Music in El Paso, told The El Paso Times in an email. “That moment established her as the de-facto Mexican-American entertainment hero for a bi-cultural generation of young Latinos in the U.S.”

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