It has been nearly more than two decades since singer Selena Quintanilla tragically passed away. Since then, fans have been spreading their love for the Queen of Tejano music by keeping her memory alive through her songs, merchandise and films about her life. Countless Selena fans all over the world have never stopped listening to ‘Bidi Bidi Bom Bom’ and ‘Como la Flor’ in the years after their debuts.
One of the biggest of these fans is her sister, Suzette Quintanilla.
Selena’s older sister wasn’t just the singer’s former bandmate; she also spent most of her life commemorating the singer’s legacy. Recently, she served as the executive producer of Netflix’s Selena: The Series, which was the first authorized biopic since Jennifer Lopez’s film in 1997.
Who is Suzette Quintanilla?
Suzette Quintanilla is an American musician who played the drums for the Quintanilla family band ‘Selena y Los Dinos’ (Selena and the Guys) along with her sister Selena, who was the vocalist of the band until her murder on March 31, 1995.
As depicted in Selena: The Series, Suzette was the only member of the family who initially hesitated to take part in the music industry. While Selena led the group with her voice and A.B. embraced the bass, Suzette required persuasion before she picked up the sticks and played the drums. “I couldn’t stand it,” she said in an interview with Texas Monthly, “Girl drummers were not exactly cool back then.”
Her insecurities in becoming the family drummer stemmed from her lack of self-esteem. Still in middle school, the young Suzette Quintanilla was shy and self-conscious, which was a challenge since as a drummer, she was just as exposed to the public as the rest of her family.
Plus, the band’s rigorous performance schedule made it difficult to maintain a social calendar. While she enjoyed being on the road, she missed out on a lot of activities like school dances. If she was in a school dance, she was most likely the performer. To make up for it, she and Selena would gossip about the cute boys in between sets. After their performance, fans would ask for autographs and eventually, their father would have them go back to the bus.
Suzette was the band’s resident drummer until her sister’s murder at the hands of Yolanda Saldivar, the fan club president of Selena Quintanilla’s fan club.
What was Suzette and Selena’s Relationship Like?
Suzette Quintanilla was her sister’s confidant ever since the latter embarked on her solo career and rose to fame. Selena became the best-selling female artist in Latin music and scored a Grammy Award for Selena Live! Despite her growing popularity, La Reina de Tejano stayed humble and was quite unaware of her fame, according to Suzette. In one instance, the singer even brought a camera to the 1994 Grammy Awards to take photos of the other celebrities. She was also shocked when she bagged an award, too.
Suzette was also the only person who knew of her sister’s forbidden romance with Chris Perez, the guitarist of Selena y Los Dinos. Their father Abraham forbade the members of the band from dating; if he found out about Selena and Chris, the latter would be fired. To avoid drama, the couple kept their relationship quiet for a long time. Despite this, Suzette had her suspicions but promised to not say anything if her father asked.
Unfortunately, their father still found out and fired Perez from the band. For a while, Perez wasn’t with them and it made Selena miserable, which caused a hard tension in the family. One day, Suzette received a call from her father, informing her that Selena finally eloped with Perez. The pair married in 1992 and they were eventually accepted by the family soon after.
But before the couple could celebrate their third wedding anniversary, Selena Quintanilla was murdered by Saldivar. The news devastated the entire family.
While the rest of her family broke down due to their loss, Suzette Quintanilla couldn’t remember how she received the news, how she was at the funeral of Selena or even the two years that followed. All she could recall was how lost she was after the death of her beloved sister.
Each member of the Quintanilla family death dealt with the singer’s death differently. Suzette found herself browsing through family pictures and opening Selena’s traveling makeup case so she could smell her sister.
What Does Suzette Quintanilla Do Now?
During her sister’s blossoming love affair with Perez, Suzette was falling in love with Bill Arriaga. She met him while on a visit to his house with Rod. Eventually, the couple started dating. Bill often traveled to see Suzette’s shows and left flowers whenever she got home. The couple dated for two years before tying the knot in 1993. Interestingly, Saldivar was part of the bridal party at Suzette Quintanilla’s wedding.
Currently, not much is known about Suzette Quintanilla’s husband as he prefers to keep a low profile. However, fans are hoping to learn more about him if Netflix releases part two of Selena: The Series. All we know as of now is that the couple has been happily married for 30 years and that they have a son named Jovan. Like his father, Jovan prefers to keep a low profile.
After her sister’s death, Suzette stopped playing the drums. However, she focused on keeping Selena’s legacy alive by working with groups that play Tejano music, she also works with the company that runs the Selena Museum. She also represented their family in events that honored her sister, which included the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in 2017. Selena was presented with a star of her own.
On top of these projects, she also became a consultant in many projects concerning her sister, which included the production of Selena’s MAC Cosmetics collections. Her sister’s makeup line was an important project for her since it hit two goals with one stone: she preserved Selena’s legacy while creating a makeup line for Latinas.
According to Suzette, when her sister passed away, she worked on three things: her perfume line, clothing line and makeup line. The older Quintanilla sister promised that she would accomplish everything that her sister started in her memory.
As mentioned above, Suzette Quintanilla is also heavily involved in the production of Selena’s Netflix show. Apart from producing the series, she also met with the actress who plays her in the show, Noemí Gonzalez.
Selena Quintanilla might have plenty of fans in the world, but there’s no arguing that her biggest fan will always be her sister. Suzette Quintanilla might have stopped playing the drums, but she continues to beat the drums to her legacy.