IN THESE divided times, icons who stand for cross-cultural unity can be an especially inspiring force.
On Tuesday, Google is celebrating such a figure with a joyous musical animation that pays moving tribute to Selena, the trendsetting musician who rose in the ’80s to become the “Queen of Tejano Music.”
“I think in our culture, we are united,” Suzette Quintanilla, Selena’s elder sister, tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “There is more unity in the world than what is being portrayed on social media.”
And Quintanilla, whose family offered insights to the artists for this Doodle, sees Google’s animation as a force for good.
“I hope that people will look at this Google Doodle and realize that Selena is still relevant to us as Latinos,” her sister says. “She’s an icon [in] our culture and among our people, and a role model. … And to my family, it is most important that she is not forgotten.”
The beloved entertainer began as a child singer, traveling around Texas in a tour bus as part of the family band. Her father taught her to sing in Spanish to maximize her reach and appeal throughout Latin America.
Her breakthrough year was 1987, as Selena won female vocalist of the year and performer of the year honors at the Tejano Music Awards. Six years later, she would win a Grammy for best Mexican American album, for “Live” — the first female, and youngest Tejano artist, to win the award.
Selena Quintanilla, who was born in Lake Jackson, Tex., in 1971, was murdered in 1995 by the president of her fan club in Corpus Christi. Two years later, Jennifer Lopez starred as the singer in the eponymous film, reflecting Selena’s superstar status.
Today’s Doodle, featuring the work of artist Kevin Laughlin and engineer Jacob Howcroft (and set to Selena’s smash hit “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”), lands during National Hispanic Heritage Month, on the anniversary of the debut of Selena’s 1989 self-titled album. (Google has previously celebrated such women artists who had ties to Mexico as dance pioneer Amalia Hernández, author Gloria E. Anzaldua and activist painter Frida Kahlo.)
The 90-second home-page animation will be viewable in the United States and in more than a dozen Latin American nations, and launches alongside the new Selena collection as part of Google’s Arts and Culture Exhibit.
The idea to salute Selena with a Doodle was the brainchild of Perla Campos, the Google Doodles global marketing lead who idolized Selena while herself growing up in small-town Texas.
“When you talk about perseverance and self-determination and talent and being an entrepreneur — to have somebody who embodied all those things [on] the home page of Google” is special, Campos tells The Post. “We think that so many of the values that this person stood for also align with our own.”
“It’s great to share this story of positivity and hope,” she notes, “and to share [the message] that Latinos are a strong people and will persevere.”