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Selena Tribute Party Returns to BackBar SoFa

In Music
MEXICAN AMERICAN IDOL: Latina pop singer Selena continues to cast a long shadow.

MEXICAN AMERICAN IDOL: Latina pop singer Selena continues to cast a long shadow.

Most gringos know very little about Selena, other than what they may have picked up from the eponymous biopic on the Spanish- and English-language pop singer. However, among Latinos of a certain age, Selena Quintanilla-Perez is much more than the character that launched Jennifer Lopez’s career—she is a diva, on par with Madonna.

Keeping that in mind will make it easier for the uninitiated to understand why last year’s inaugural Selena Tribute Party was such a smashing success and why so many are anxiously awaiting the second installment of the Sonido Clash-hosted party.

Scheduled for April 16, Selena’s 45th birthday, the second annual Selena Tribute Party will celebrate the life and music of an artist whose flame burned brightly and far too briefly (she was shot and killed in 1995 at the age of 23). The event has already sold out and it’s Facebook page shows more than 2,000 people are “interested” in attending—far more than the capacity of BackBar SoFa where the party is to be held.

In an effort to live up to expectations, organizers with Sonido Clash are going bigger this year—recruiting local DJs and flying in artists in from Selena’s home state of Texas for the massive dance party.

“We felt the ripple effect,” says Roman Zepeda of Sonido Clash, adding that he sees the Selena party as an event for which San Jose might become known.

Sonido Clash’s signature fusion of cumbia, reggaeton, salsa, rap, electronic and hip-hop will be deployed in the service Selena’s music. But the tunes will not be the only draw. The intensely competitive Selena look-alike contest will also return, with a $100 dollar prize going to the winner. The organizers say the event will not only cross genre lines, but generational and racial lines as well.

“It will be multigenerational and beyond Latino,” Sonido Clash’s Fernando Perez promises, explaining that the idea is to make the event appealing for everyone, no matter their background.

Local Latina selector, DJ Mare. E. Fresh, of the all female San Jose art and music collective Casa Chikimalas, will kick off the celebration, and the NPR- approved DJ Teardrop, a.k.a. Claudia Saenz, will be spinning her signature combo of soul and oldies on wax.  “I’ve never kept anyone in my life as long as Selena,” Saenz says.


Thee Commons, an East L.A. band specializing in merging cumbia, psychedelic and punk, will perform an all-Selena set and will have a 10” vinyl pressing of their popular, punk cover of “Baila Esta Cumbia” for sale.

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez impacted each of the night’s scheduled artists and Sonido Clash profoundly. Her crossover and accomplishments inspired them all to create and dream. “We should admire Selena for her talents, but we should shine on our own,” says Gracie Chavez, a performing DJ and founder of Houston music collective Bombón. “It’s not being Selena. It’s permission to express yourself creatively. If she can do it, so can you. That’s the real message.”

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