The day she died, her song "Fotos y Recuerdos" ("Photographs and Memories") was No. 4 on the Billboard Latin charts. Tejano -- a modern, urban version of the upbeat, accordion-based Tex-Mex music called conjunto -- had never seen a star like Selena, the 23-year-old lead singer for Selena y Los Dinos. A Grammy in 1994 for "Selena Live." Another nomination this year for "Amor Prohibido." A devout Catholic. A sweet and married woman who was sexy but family-oriented. She was perfect.
Selena Quintanilla Perez was idolized by millions of young Hispanic women, who saw her as a Madonna of their own. In this sense she was both a role model and a safety net. The things that Selena protected were not the things that fall because of gravity. She caught the things that float in the air just before these young women speak, the things that choke them when their mouths begin to form a sound. Selena was a safety net who caught the often plummeting self-esteem of adolescent Hispanic girls.