Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Fans across town snap up new Selena album


Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle

At 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, some 600 people pressed toward the cash registers at J-Tees Records & Tapes on Harrisburg.

They had one goal in mind: to own "Dreaming of You," the first English-language album by Selena, the 23-year-old Tejano superstar who was murdered in March.

J-Tees owner Eva Berrones said customers were subdued, "kind of sad. They came mostly to support Selena's family."

Berrones sold about 500 CDs and cassettes between midnight and 2 a.m., then went home, showered, napped and returned to open her east Houston shop at 6 a.m. She sold another 350 CDs and tapes Tuesday morning.

The enormous demand for Selena's album was easy to predict, Berrones said. "People were attracted to her youth, her friendliness, her music, her voice, her beauty."

Across town at Planet Music, another 500 Selena CDs and tapes were grabbed up after the stroke of midnight, when the album officially went on sale.

At the Westheimer store, however, the mood was upbeat and festive. Planet Music had invited disc jockeys from Tejano radio station KXTJ (108 FM) to kick off the late-night party and James Coney Island gave away hot dogs.

"We're still trying to clean up the debris," product manager Leo McLean said Tuesday afternoon. "We had 2,500 people in our store, a lot more than we thought. It was hot - the air conditioning couldn't keep up."

Bob Olivo, a buyer for Southwest Wholesale, said there's enormous demand for the release because people expect it to be the last one by Selena.

"We bought 30,000 cassettes and 20,000 CDs, and we're already out of CDs and have only 1,500 cassettes left," said Olivo, whose company buys tapes and CDs direct from record companies and sells to retailers around the country. "I've never seen anything like this, not in the Latin market."

At age 23, Selena Quintanilla Perez, known to her fans simply as Selena, already had conquered the fast-growing Tejano market.

She had hoped her English-language debut album would introduce her to the mainstream pop audience, and had completed four new songs in English before she was shot to death March 31 at a Corpus Christi motel. Fan club founder Yolanda Saldivar has been charged with murder.

Also on the 13-track "Dreaming of You" are three tunes recorded for the movie "Don Juan DeMarco" but left off the soundtrack; they include a duet with David Byrne and two mariachi tunes. The other six songs are remixed versions of Selena's Latin-pop hits.

"People know it's all they're ever going to get of Selena - there's never going to be anything else," Olivo said. "And they're still very sad about her death. I know I am."

EMI record company spokesman Sandy Friedman expects Dreaming of You to be among the Top 10 on the next Billboard pop chart.

"No question the album sales are the best ever for a Tejano star," he said Tuesday. "We're talking about something in the realm of Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Madonna. The album is doing that well."

Everybody's buying it, Friedman added, "Anglos, blacks, Latins, the young, the old. Everyone loved her."

At Sam Goody, a chain record shop in Almeda Mall, store manager Ros Radley said: "I'm not sure there is a word in the dictionary to describe sales of the Selena album in the past 24 hours. We've probably sold 200 CDs and 300 cassettes. It's the biggest thing we've ever had."

Radley offered two explanations: "To be blunt, the fact that she's not here anymore makes the album much more valuable. She's jumped up to legend status. Also, this is the first time she's sung in English to any real degree. That's a big part of it, too."

At J-Tees Tuesday morning, fans were remembering the star as they purchased her album.

"I've never heard anybody with a voice like that," said Oralia Balero.

Added Lydia Medina: "I miss her a lot. This is going to be my favorite album."

Victoria Garcia, 11, watched while her mother paid at the cash register. She said she feels like someone in her family died.

"I was at school when I heard she had been killed. I couldn't believe it."