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The Life (not death) of Selena

31 Mar

selenara14 years ago today, Selena was killed by a single bullet to her back at the age of 23. A lot of Spanglish speaking Latinos can relate to Selena because of what she was: a hard-working young person with a positive attitude and proud of her roots. She was unapologetically Latina with her brown skin, big hoop earrings, crinkled dark hair, and big red lips. Watch any of her performances, and she looks like she’s having. Her husky voice sounded nothing like her Latina pop contemporaries, Latina singers usually prized for sounding “feminine”. And she had paid her dues, working in smoky nightclubs, slowly rising to become an international artist, performing in the biggest arenas in the US, and selling millions of albums, even winning a Grammy. But what’s even more fun is to watch how Selena interacted with her fans. She treated them like friends not fans.

What’s ironic is that it’s Selena’s joy for life that made her so endearing to Latinos. She genuinely seemed grateful for her success. That’s why her death was so poignant, because she seemed to really appreciate life.

It’s not how big Selena might have become but how big she would have become. Selena was able to wake up people who had long felt ignored. Latinos who worked in fields and in offices alike slowly united behind her. Even if “mainstream” didn’t accept her she would have come with a built-in audience. It wasn’t just because they liked her music, but because she represented the best there is in us, what we tell our children: with hard work you can succeed. We would have made sure Selena succeeded, we still do. She deserves it.

Watch how much fun she has singing this song

Something in the way…

24 Feb

This woman, Rocio Durcal, was is one of my favorite singers of all time. Her voice seems to have a natural reverb, like it’s vibrating within her body cavity. But what gets me is her intensity. To me it feels like a claws at my heart when she hits those long strong notes, and then the soft sustained notes feel like she gives the wound a kiss.  The song lyrics or theme are secondary in this example, because I don’t think I even know what she’s saying other than “Come Along With Me”