Austin celebrates Selena Day, honoring legacy of ‘Queen of Tejano music’ – The Daily Texan

At 5 years old, Tanisha Washington first watched the 1997 film “Selena.”

Washington’s connection to Selena Quintanilla did not stop at her childhood, carrying her love for the Texas-born singer into adulthood.

“I grew up singing in choir, and I’ve always been so inspired by her talent, her personality and how she was so ahead of her time,” Washington said. “It’s tragic that she was taken at 23 years old. She would have went on to be one of the biggest superstars of our world … when it came to fashion, music (and) her ability to not only be an amazing performer but an amazing human being.”

Quintanilla’s influential music and style remains a quintessential piece of Texas’ cultural history. Since 1995, when then-governor and former President George W. Bush declared April 16 as Selena Day in Texas, fans old and new continue to celebrate the Tejano singer’s legacy. On Sunday, South Austin bar Lulu’s hosted a Selena Day event, which included bingo, Selena’s hits and a Selena dress-up contest.

“It’s a great way to bring the community together to support and celebrate such a legend,” Washington said. “Even if you come and you don’t know much about her, (by) being around everyone and just seeing the celebration … you can learn so much about her.”

Attending the Selena Day celebration, Daniela Shout said, as a newcomer to Texas, she witnesses how Selena’s fans keep her legacy alive.

“I just learned about Selena, and I’m totally inspired,” Shout said. “I want to learn more about her and how she inspires others.”

Evelyn Baez, a radio-television-film junior, attended the event and cited Selena as one of her first role models.

“She’s an icon here in Texas,” Baez said. “I think it’s a great idea to celebrate her birthday and get other people who don’t really know the artist to get to know her music and her art.”

Lydia Isnanto said seeing younger generations embrace Latin music inspires her as a Mexican-American.

“It’s inspiring that (people) are wanting to know about you, and Selena is a good representation of that,” Isnanto said.

Isnanto said she feels compelled to learn everything about her ancestors, even though she lives in the U.S. Relating to Selena as a Mexican American, Isnanto said she identifies with sitting at the intersection of two cultures.

“You can relate to both cultures,” Isnanto said. “You’re inspired by what your parents grew up with, and it influences you mentally, but you also listen to English music or art. You’re drawn to that as well. You’re in the middle.”

Growing up, Roxana Flores said she listened to Selena’s music, watched the biopic and admired the singer, prompting her to attend the celebration. Flores said she admires how Selena broke boundaries, crossed barriers and continues to inspire future generations to do the same.

“Ni de aquí, ni de allá,” Flores said. “She represented that you can be successful, you can be both.”

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