Selena Quintanilla’s family have dedicated their lives to honoring her memory
Although Selena Quintanilla is gone, her legacy is still alive, thanks to her family, including her father, Abraham Quintanilla; her mother, Marcella Quintanilla; her siblings, A.B. Quintanilla III and Suzette Quintanilla; and her widowed husband, Chris Pérez.
After she was fatally shot at the hands of her former fan club president, Yolanda Saldívar, on March 31, 1995, Selena’s loved ones have honored her memory in numerous ways. They’ve worked on several film and TV projects, including the 1997 movie Selena starring Jennifer Lopez, which Abraham executive produced, the 2020 Netflix show Selena: The Series, which A.B. and Suzette produced, her posthumous Moonchild Mixes album, which A.B. produced in 2022, and two memoirs by Abraham and Pérez.
“In my mind, she’s still alive, because you get involved with all her things and doing things for her every day that sometimes I forget that she’s not here with us anymore,” Abraham told Entertainment Tonight in March 2017. “So in a sort of way, it’s hard to explain, in my mind, she’s alive."
At the height of her fame, Selena, known as the "Queen of Tejano Music," racked up seven No. 1 hits, according to Billboard, and became the first female Tejano artist to win a Grammy. Her fifth album, Dreaming of You, which was released three months after her death, was the first mostly Spanish album to top the U.S. Billboard 200 and was ranked as the top-selling Latin album of the last 25 years in 2017.
So who are Selena Quintanilla’s family members? Here’s everything to know about the people who knew her best and their relationships with the late singer.
Her parents have been married since 1963
Abraham and Marcella Quintanilla (née Samora) reportedly met in Tacoma, Washington, while he was stationed at McChord Air Force Base. They tied the knot on June 8, 1963.
The couple welcomed their first child, Abraham Isaac “A.B.” Quintanilla III, six months later on Dec. 13, 1963. He was followed by Suzette, who was born on June 29, 1967, and Selena, who rounded out the family on April 16, 1971.
Together, they raised their family in the coastal city of Corpus Christi, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border.
A.B. celebrated his parents' wedding anniversary on Instagram in 2023. “I would love to congratulate my parents on their 60th anniversary!!!” he wrote. “6 decades of marriage…Wow!!! I love y’all 💜💜💜."
Abraham was the first family musician
Abraham managed Selena and her band, Selena y Los Dinos (or Selena and the Guys in English), which featured A.B. on bass, Suzette on drums and her husband Pérez on the guitar. Before Selena’s career, Abraham sang in a band of his own called Los Dinos.
Abraham joined the group, which was made up of his high school classmates, in 1957, and together they released several records.
Following the buzz of their 1959 single “So Hard to Tell,” Los Dinos played in venues around the Lone Star State, including Abraham’s home of Corpus Christi. Per biographer Joe Nick Patoski’s book Selena: Como La Flor, the group got a fair amount of radio play, but Selena’s father, who was also an active member of the Air Force from 1961 to 1963, left the group in 1969. Los Dinos continued to play and record music until 1974, when it disbanded.
According to A.B., Abraham’s early experiences in the music industry enabled him to recognize Selena’s tremendous talent. "There are a lot of families who think, 'My kids are talented, they sing, they're awesome,' but my dad, as a musician, saw something that we didn't," he told PEOPLE in March 2020.
Abraham said of his younger daughter in 1995, "Her timing, her pitch were perfect. I could see it from day one.”
Suzette inspired Selena’s song “No Me Queda Más”
Abraham revealed that his favorite Selena song, “No Me Queda Más,” was inspired by his older daughter, Suzette.
“That song was written by [keyboard player] Ricky Vela,” he once said in an interview. “At the time, Ricky Vela has a crush on my daughter Suzette. But Suzette never knew anything about it. Suzette met her now husband, Bill, and they got married. That’s how Ricky wrote that song.”
Abraham recalled that Selena had tears in her eyes when she recorded the song. “Her eyes were watering because she knew how Ricky felt,” he said.
Suzette opened up her home to Jennifer Lopez while she was filming Selena
Lopez opened up about the experience on the Apple Music Beats 1 radio in 2019: “It was a beautiful time in my life and it taught me so much about life. I slept in [Selena’s] bed at home. I talked to the whole family. I spent time with them. It can be melancholy and beautiful at the same time."
Lopez and Suzette reunited in September 2017 during one of the actress’s Planet Hollywood Las Vegas residency shows. “[It] always feels good to see Jennifer and seems like old times when we hung out during the making of the Selena movie,” Suzette told ET. “[I] don't get to see her much.”
She added that she appreciated Lopez’s respect for her late sibling. “It always makes me feel good inside when I hear her speak of what my sister means to her,” she told the outlet. “How Jennifer looks up to her not only as an artist but as a person.”
Selena married Pérez in 1992
Selena and Pérez eloped on April 2, 1992, and were married at the time of her death. The couple went through several challenges throughout their relationship.
As seen in the film Selena, Abraham opposed their marriage from the start. He recalled his concern to ET in 2017: “I didn’t know Chris that well. What if he was a macho type … like they get married and [he says], ‘Well, you’re not going to sing no more.’ All the work, all the sacrifices that we’ve done, will go down the tube.”
Looking back, the music mogul said he regretted that his daughter felt the need to elope. “I feel bad that I was over-strict, too strict, that I put her in that situation,” he added.
Working and living together also took its toll on the pair. “We were married and together 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Pérez told CNN in March 2012. “We had to learn how to handle that.”
Though they broached the topic of divorce, Pérez said A.B. brought the pair back together. “It was Selena’s brother who actually opened her eyes,” he shared with the outlet. “He said to her, ‘You know Chris is going to move on. How are you going to feel if you see him with another woman?’ And that’s when she was like, ‘Oh no, that ain’t going to happen!’ ”
He added: “We ended up patching things up and making a promise that we would never let that happen again. … We started talking about a family."
Pérez credited Selena with giving him his family
Six years after Selena’s death, Pérez married Venessa Villanueva, with whom he welcomed a daughter, Cassie, and a son, Noah. He attributed their presence in his life to the late singer in his 2012 memoir, To Selena, with Love.
"I wish that I could have had a family with Selena, as we had always planned; still, I know that Selena was the one who made this possible for me,” he wrote. “She showed me how to drop my guard and embrace life."
Pérez and Villanueva split in 2008. “When I got remarried, that was me trying to downplay [Selena’s death] in my life,” he told the New York Post in December 2020. “Getting remarried and starting my new life was a way to get over losing her. I thought getting remarried would help, and it did. But the pain is still there. It’ll always be there.”
He added, “I’ve never had the kind of love that I had with Selena.”
A.B. and Pérez continued to perform together after Selena’s death
Both A.B. and Pérez continued to pursue musical paths after their original band, Selena y Los Dinos, disbanded.
A.B. founded the Latin Grammy Award-nominated group Los Kumbia Kings, with which Pérez played for a number of years. Both men also went on to perform with another iteration of the group, Kumbia All Starz, which also earned its own Latin Grammy Award nod.
Pérez spoke about wanting to stay close to the Quintanillas in May 1999. “The reason I stayed in Corpus [after Selena’s death] is because I think at the time I needed, or I felt I needed, Selena’s family around me,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “They’re a part of her walking around over there, to be literal. Her dad, her mother, her brother, her sister. I was looking for her in them.”
Additionally, Pérez found success with his own projects. In 1999, the Chris Pérez Band released the album Resurrection, which won a Grammy for best Latin rock/alternative performance the following year. The album included the track “Best I Can” about Selena.
“I remember the day I wrote ‘Best I Can,’ ” Pérez told the L.A. Times. “I’m still not comfortable with that song. It’s pretty straightforward, in that you know people are going to know what it’s about by listening to the lyrics. I was kind of a little skeptical about using that because, if anything, I’ve made it harder on myself so that people won’t relate — so they won’t say I used what happened to my benefit.”
Selena would have had nine nieces and nephews
Selena would have been an aunt of nine.
Her older brother A.B. has eight kids. His sons Svani and Gianni appeared with him on the cover of People en Español in 2008. In 2020, A.B. posted a photo of his daughter, Martika, with Svani and Lopez during the filming of Selena.
Selena’s father sued Pérez over the rights to her likeness
In 2016, Abraham sued Selena’s widowed husband over his plans to turn his 2012 memoir into a TV series. Abraham alleged that Pérez had "signed a deal that gave all rights to Selena's likeness and name to her estate."
Though Pérez’s legal team attempted to have the case dismissed on the grounds of “free speech,” the lawsuit was allowed to proceed.
The legal battle damaged the family’s relationship with Pérez, who told the New York Post in 2020 that he hadn’t spoken to them since the lawsuit was filed. “I’m a believer that if you truly ever did love somebody you don’t just stop loving them," he said. "So, there’s always going to be that love and respect [for her family]. But things are not as good as they should be and that hurts."
By September 2021, all parties had “amicably resolved” the matter, according to Pérez, who said that he hoped to move forward with a united front. “Now that these issues are behind us, going forward, my hope, and the hope of the Quintanilla family, is for us to work together to continue to honor and celebrate the legacy of Selena,” he wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter).
In July 2023, the guitarist shared Instagram photos with Suzette and Abraham, revealing that he had visited them at Q-Productions. “Can’t wait to come back and visit with the fam! Good times!” he wrote.
Pérez and Suzette had another reunion shortly after in September. "Met this guitar player tonite! Might start a band @chrispereznow 😎🎸🥁," she captioned a selfie with him on Instagram.
The Quintanillas helped to create the Netflix show based on Selena’s life
As PEOPLE reported at the time, Selena’s family worked with the show’s creator and executive producer, Moisés Zamora, to bring the project to life.
In addition, both of Selena’s siblings were credited as executive producers on the series. “We feel great responsibility to do justice to her memory,” Suzette told The Hollywood Reporter in December 2018 when the project was first announced. “With this series, viewers will finally get the full history of Selena, our family and the impact she has had on all of our lives.”
In December 2020, Suzette thanked fans for the series’ success, captioning a photo on Instagram of the show ranked at No. 1 in the U.S. that day. “GUYS!!! OMG!!! Waking up and seeing this is insane and Beautiful!" she wrote. "THANK YOU THANK YOU for this love you have always given to our family. 🙏💜."
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