Ritchie Valens and Selena are two bright stars, who passed away so young, contributed to the world music. Both the artists were born with the talent and had so much in common. The main similarity between Ritchie Valens and Selena is their strong self-esteem and aspiring life goals (Reasoner). Moreover, they were from the similar families, were Americans proud of their Mexican roots singing song in Spanish and English. They shared the passion for music, but had faced financial difficulties and tasted the glory. Finally, both Selena and Ritchie Valens were born in right places at the right time.
Ritchie Valens started his career in rock-n-roll. He was born in a very poor family and musical career was his own choice. Contrary to Selena, who knew from the early childhood that she will be a singer because of her father, Valens was anxious and stressed about music. Therefore, his success was a result of his life experience, mistakes and fears, and the wish to become popular and famous to bring tejano music to people.
The original term tejano means a Mexican person born in Texas. In fact, Selena became widely known as “The Queen of Tejano music”. However, eventually tejano became a musical term that is a mix of traditional Mexican, German and Czech forms of music brought by the European immigrants (Archoolie Records). Later, the genre was expanded by Selena through adding rock and country elements.
Being a woman made it harder for Selena to achieve success on the American scene, but she used all her talent, charm and sexuality to thrive. She had tensed relationship with her dad, who was also her producer. As a result of fights for a long time, she could not afford everything she wanted to express her inner power on stage, like costumes, dances and songs. On the other hand, Ritchie was on his own and the producer was rather an advisor than a boss. Moreover, the major difference between the two artists is the gender problem of all the times. In order to become popular in 1950 for a man it is enough to be handsome, talented, sing well and have a guitar. However, even in 1990 a woman had to fight for the right to be on stage. In fact, Selena chose a hard way in tejano music where her competitors were men.
Speaking about the correlation between the career and time, the 1950s was a post-war period, while 1990s were stricken by hunger, poverty and unemployment. The state in the economy greatly affected the music industry. In 1950s, the countries were rising up after the darkest times; people were building their new lives and were thankful and faithful. They were tired of tragedies, crying, and wanted to love and spread it all around. It was a good time to start something new, to experiment, as the doors were opened. The conditions for starting a music carrier were positive, especially in rock-n-roll genre. Ritchie Valens liked to play music, and one day he met a producer in search of young talents. Eventually, 1990s made people envious and mean. The American dream, luxury life, beautiful TV shows, young musicians and rich actors were the main interest of the time. Many people wanted to get into show business to become popular. As a result, Selena became a victim of that time. Her kindness made a bad joke with her (“Selena”).
Both singers faced prejudice because of their age, race, and gender. Moreover, they were Mexicans in America and Americans in Mexico. Throughout their life, both Selena and Ritchie Valens had to prove and secure their place in the world. In some way, the Selena’s success was provied by the right audience, listeners of the same race in the similar situation listened to music for consolation. She became the face of Tejano music and the symbol of young talented nation. The singer had extra power to keep the audience dancing and make them calm in a blink of an eye. She was famous, successful and shy at the same time, she never forgot about her family and about her Dad (“Corpus: A Home Movie about Selena”).
Strong family relationship and support helped Ritchie and Selena become popular, overcome difficulties and share the victory. Both artists stayed in their houses, discussed and took advice from their family members. Side by side as long as possible, Selena was with her family on the tours bus (Lourdes Portillo), while Ritchie came home on holidays and vacations. Strong family support, positive relationship and trust the artists from the side of the families was the similarity of singers.
Despite having great talent and chances for success, they both died at very young age. Ritchie passed away at 18 and Selena at 23. However, during their short careers, they wrote their names in the history, owned awards, inspired the public. They both could have given so much more to the world. As a song by Nirvana reads “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away”, their fans will always remember them young, successful and happy.
The term “tejano” is used to identify a Mexican American from Texas. It also defines a music genre is a mix of folk Latin music (conjuntos, orquestas) with traditional German and Czech forms (waltz, polka) adding some rock-n-roll, country, sole and pop (Archoolie Records). After the Mexican Revolution in 1900-1920, immigrants moved to the United States of America, mostly to South Texas and Southern California. The first migration wave was motivated by political situation and economic disaster. The Mexicans and German immigrants in Monterrey together created a special music genre named tejano. The principal instrument is accordion accompanied by bass guitar, drums, guitar related instruments. In addition, bigger orchestras include breath instruments. The genre is also known as Mexican conjuto or conjuto tejano (Tragos De Amargo Liqour).
Narciso "El Huracan del Valle" Martinez is known as the Father of conjuto music, as he identified the role of accordion (Archoolie Records). However, one of the brightest representatives of tejano music is Ramon Ayala known as the “King of Accordion”. He was born in 1945 in Monterrey, Mexico. He started playing accordion when he was 6 years old Raymon Ayala is one of the founders of the modern norteno music. The recognition by the major public came when the artist was awarded an American Grammy in 2001 (Tragos De Amargo Liqour).
South Texas/ Mexican Border
The reason for Mexican Revolution was the will to defeat the dictator Porfirio Diaz and build a constitutional republic. It was one of the most important armed conflicts in the history of Mexico. The conflict spread to the Northern border with the United States. The rebel’s leader was Francisco I. Madero. Porfirio Diaz was a President from 1876 till 1911. He used the method of non-election and became dictator. Eventually the regime became unbearable and Francisco I. Madero gathered a group of people to defeat him in elections. The opposition provoked the wave of rebellions. On May 11, 1911 Treaty of Ciudad Juárez was signed by Diaz. Madero became a President, but soonn was reseated by other rebellions, which did not perceive Madero as a strong leader. In 1913 General Victoriano Huerta became the new President, but he was not recognized by the US power. The United States provoked the next armed opposition to the present government and caused new rebellions. Emiliano Zapata is one of the Mexican heroes in the Mexican Revolution. He had his own army called “Zapatista”, which included peasants and intellectuals. The constitutional troops shot a 23 year old colonel who provided the city resistance. On the 4th of June, 1913 the Federal garrison was captured in Matamoros, putting an end to the revolution (Knight). The material evidences of the events can be seen in The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, which proves the tragedy of the country (The Library of Congress).
Lourdes Portillo is a Mexican documentary filmmaker and screenwriter. She was born in 1944, and immigrated with the family to the United States when she was a teenager. Her movies are focused on the search of Latina identity. In 1985, her film The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo saw the world and gathered positive recognition (Lourdes Portillo). The director was awarded numerous times. She once said, “documentary is always associated with injustice” (Women Make Movies). In 1993, Portillo had an opportunity to screen a movie about Christopher Columbus due to the 500th anniversary of discovering America. Later it was presented on international film festivals and recognized as a very successful documentary.
Among her films there are two divided to Selena, titled Conversation with intellectuals about Selena (1999) and Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena (1999). In the first one, Chicano intellectuals debate about the role of Selena and her status as a role model. The second is a tribute to the singer made of home videos, rare photos and interviews of people from her hometown. It provides a different look on the singer’s life and gives an opportunity for the audience to make its own conclusions from the memories of the closest people. It shows the transformation of a young star to a modern saint and a role model (Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena). The film shows that Selena’s death was only the beginning of her cult. She was and is a mainstream celebrity for the Hispanic community.
Latinas as Role Models
Rita Moreno is an iconic Latino actress awarded with Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, the Sarah Siddons Award, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement (Oreola).
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