Twenty-seven years after Selena Quintanilla won her first GRAMMY for Best Mexican-American Album for Selena Live! in 1994, the academy once again recognizes her, this time with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.
As part of the 2021 Special Merit Awards, Quintanilla is being honored for her “outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording.”
Ahead of the ceremony, Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla, explained how the late Queen of Tejano Music would be feeling with this award. “I think she would be over the moon. I think she would be very giddy about it. I think that she would probably have her social media handles, and she would probably be posting tons of photos with it, I’m sure,” she told ET. ”I go back to the other part of Selena, of her being a role model. And I think that it shines a huge light on that. That with hard work and dedication and with your family behind you and everything, that you can do so much. [It] doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you have that drive and that passion, and you can succeed.”
The former drummer of Selena y Los Dinos said this recognition should resonate with the younger Latinx community, mainly because through hard work, Selena was able to leave her mark in the world. “And I think that this award, I hope that the younger generation, the younger Latinas, young [people] overall, they can go back and they can look at this and think, ‘Wow, she’s still doing it, and she’s not even here. She’s been gone for 25 years,’” Suzette noted. “And that’s a powerful, powerful message. And I hope that that resonates in our youth. I really do.”
Quintanilla also said she is proud of the “Amor Prohibido” singer and that this award is “Mind-blowing.” According to Suzette, the whole family got emotional. “We even got a little teary-eyed,” she said. ”It‘s huge. It’s an honor!”
“There’s a lot of video out there and footage of Selena when she talks about how excited she was to win the GRAMMY. And I was so honored to be able to be with her and [Selena’s husband] Chris [Perez],” Suzette remembered. “And [my husband] Bill [Arriaga] and I were there whenever she won the award and how amazing she looked that night.”
“Twenty-five years later, and who would have ever thought that she would be honored with this Lifetime Achievement Award? I’m very proud, and I know she would be also in regards to the fact that we are Mexicanos-Americanos, we’re Mexican-Americans, and this is happening,” she added. “It’s huge. It’s really huge for a different couple of reasons. More importantly, the fact that her career and her life is still being celebrated so many years later.”
Quintanilla also told ET she wishes her sister was still alive so she could enjoy this moment with her whole family. “There’s a representation thereof who we are as Mexican-Americans…There’s not a lot of it,” she said.
“And to have something like that and a special moment to honor Selena, it’s just, it’s mind-blowing, and we’re so excited. I wish she was here to be able to experience what we’re experiencing now.”
Suzette said that back in 1994, when Selena became the first Tejano singer to win for Best Mexican-American Album, she was in a “giddy mood the whole time.”
For the late singer, it was a sublime moment. “Just kind of looking at each other like, ‘I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it,’ that type of thing,” she shared, adding, ”And of course, a lot of people were complimenting her on how beautiful she looked. She looked amazing!”
For the whole Quintanilla family, the first Grammy was a humbling experience. “Awards are amazing, but they don‘t define who you are as an artist or as a musician, because there’s so many artists out there that are well-deserving of a lot of awards and unfortunately not everyone has one. It doesn’t define you. It just helps you,” she clarified. ”It’s a nice recognition of all the hard work that you’ve done, and especially on this live album that was recorded actually here in Corpus Christi at the Memorial Coliseum. And it’s just a live jam that we did back in ’93.To be able to record it here in our hometown and to have it win a GRAMMY, it’s a very beautiful thing. And I’ll never forget the fact that the whole night of us recording that was pretty special.”
Besides Selena Quintanilla, the academy recognizes with the Lifetime Achievement Award to Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Lionel Hampton, Marilyn Horne, Salt-N-Pepa, and Talking Heads.