Maria Garcia has a definite reminiscence of when her connection to Selena Quintanilla-Pérez started. It was the early 1990s and he or she was 7, watching the Tejano star carry out on tv.
“She had this cascade of black hair, red lips, brown skin,” Garcia says within the first episode of the brand new podcast “Anything for Selena.” “She sang like she felt every single word of her songs, like the music was emanating from her body.”
It was a pivotal second for Garcia, the podcast’s host. Born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and raised in El Paso, Texas, she struggled to determine who she was and the place she belonged, describing within the podcast how she felt “a rejection, a stigma, in both countries.” Yet, right here was somebody who seemed like her, uncompromising in her biculturalism and look. Selena was Mexican as a lot as she was American. Her first hits, like “Como La Flor,” have been in Spanish, however “Dreaming of You,” her posthumous English-language album, was a mainstream success and the 1997 biopic starring Jennifer Lopez additional cemented her legacy.
While the present, a 10-episode podcast co-produced by Boston’s NPR affiliate WBUR and Futuro Media, serves as a biography of Selena, it additionally weaves in Garcia’s private story. And she makes the case for the way the singer’s life and demise (Selena was fatally shot by the president of her fan membership in 1995) have been profound flash factors for Latinos like herself that had lasting results on the cultural panorama. The episodes drop every Wednesday and are paired with Spanish-language variations.
I additionally grew up in Texas, 100 miles north of Corpus Christi, the place Selena was from, and like Garcia, I’m a first-generation Mexican-American. Whether it was at a quinceañera or blaring from the kitchen radio, Selena’s music was a part of the soundtrack to life. Tejano music, which fuses Mexican, European and American influences, was an expression of what it means to be from Texas. She embodied all these influences.
Garcia is at present staying in El Paso, the place she spoke on the telephone concerning the sequence and the way a lot it hinged on a gathering with Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, who is thought to be very protecting of her legacy. These are edited excerpts from the dialog.
What was the inspiration for “Anything for Selena?”
The podcast has been my very own search to determine the place I belong on the earth and the way I belong on the earth. Everybody who is aware of me is aware of that I’ve all the time been an enormous Selena devotee from the time I used to be a bit of lady to my adolescence and to my early maturity.
The final dwelling video I’ve with my father earlier than he died, it’s of us dancing to Selena music. I spotted there have been all these moments in my life the place Selena was there, and I actually needed to unpack why she felt so profound to me even in my 30s. I knew the reply was extra than simply she was this Mexican-American performer within the ’90s — a time when that basically incentivized assimilation. I needed to go even deeper and attempt to join the dots by way of the many years and actually attempt to do her legacy justice in music and in tradition.
The different factor about this sequence is that it’s partly a memoir about your upbringing and life on the border and struggling to slot in. It made me consider this saying in Spanish, “ni de aquí, ni de allá,” neither from right here nor there. Why did you wish to open up about that?
I wasn’t considering of it as a memoir once I began writing it. For me, I used to be telling this story as a result of once I was 7 years previous and I’ve the primary reminiscence of Selena, I didn’t have the language to articulate what she meant to me.
There was this rigidity between these two components of me, and to see anyone who embodied each of these components absolutely within the States and in Mexico, who traversed the 2 international locations with out code switching, who was the identical particular person on each side of the border — I’d by no means seen something like that. It struck me at a younger age and it stayed with me all of my life.
The most up-to-date episode has matters that listeners could discover intriguing.
We discover race fairly deeply in these subsequent episodes. I’ve this principle that there’s a direct historic lineage from Selena to at this time’s mainstreaming of massive butts. Black girls have all the time been on the forefront of celebrating curvaceous our bodies, however there’s this second within the mid-90s, after Selena’s demise, and notably on the time of her biopic, whenLatinas, made it a function that grew to become fascinating within the mainstream.
To me, that story is about Latino identification’s fraught relationship with Blackness and the way in which Latinidad (the idea of U.S. Latino identification) has dehumanized and erased Black individuals whereas capitalizing on and obsessing over Black options. And the way in which that Latino identification has served to make these options palatable for white audiences.
In the second episode, you discuss going to fulfill Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father. What was that have like and did you’ve gotten issues about what may occur?
Oh completely. I used to be terrified. I flew to Corpus Christi with none assure that he would even see me. We had been making an attempt to accumulate the music rights for Selena’s catalog. We had heard from the document label they usually advised us that not solely the household rejected it, however that they weren’t supportive of the venture.
But I knew Abraham was one of many foundational keys to understanding Selena. It’s superb how typically and the way devotedly she talked about her father. They had a inventive bond over their craft, over music.
He’s this actually imposing character, particularly in Spanish media. There’s been a lot salacious protection about him, and I needed to get to know him as an individual, with out an agenda. I feel he realized that after he spent a while with us and opened up.
It felt like he let his guard down with you.
And I with him. It was reciprocal.
He is genuinely a sophisticated particular person. He admits that he was an extremely demanding father. But he advised me he has moments the place he wonders if he had not pushed Selena to be a star, would she nonetheless be right here? That’s a really actual rigidity he has lived with for the final quarter century.
The sequence additionally discusses how after Selena’s demise, Howard Stern grew to become a flash level on how Latinos have been portrayed within the media. It was startling to listen to the rhetoric now (In a clip, he makes enjoyable of her and the Latinos grieving her demise; he later apologized). Do you suppose a lot has modified since then?
Lots of people hearken to that archive tape and really feel distressed. I say this within the episode — that is his factor. But I actually needed to focus an episode on that as a result of that’s the second within the Selena journey that it grew to become clear to me how political [her death] was. To make enjoyable of the individuals who mourned her was to dismiss the lifetime of Latinos.
When I heard this tape, all I might take into consideration have been the ladies in Juarez who’ve been murdered over generations and no one cared. And it feels prefer to this present day, no one cares. So a lot of them seemed like Selena. These are girls who have been poor and brown like Selena had been. But Selena was afforded a special path as a result of she was born on this facet of the border.
Even if she did every little thing proper, even when she performed by all the principles, nonetheless to Howard Stern, her life didn’t matter. That’s the second the place her symbolism took off, the weekend after her demise. After her demise, her image then remodeled much more. She grew to become this vessel to have a look at the polemics, tensions and narratives round Latino life and its value.