Selena’s Legacy: A Bittersweet Tribute in a Brew

Nuestro Stories Staff
 | April 16, 2024

It’s “National Selena Day,” a day dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of the Queen of Tejano music Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Born April 16, 1971, the music legend’s fans come together on this day to honor the singer who left us too soon. But, this year, a bittersweet tribute in the form of a brew has taken a bit of the spotlight.

A recent attempt to pay homage to Selena through a unique tribute beer has sparked controversy and raised questions about the balance between honoring an icon and respecting intellectual property rights.

What began as a heartfelt gesture by a group minority business owners quickly turned into a legal battle when the Selena estate issued a “cease and desist” letter. It halted production and distribution of the commemorative brew.

Selena’s Legacy: A Bittersweet Tribute in a Brew

Weeks before her birthday, a group of her fans took to social media to honor the beloved Tejano music icon with the launch of a special limited-edition beer. These weren’t just any fans. They’re part of the craft brewery, Brewjeria Company, and fellow minority business owners.

“Named after one of Selena’s hits, Tomo La Flor, the limited-release beer is described to be a hibiscus pale ale with a hint of guava,” NBC Los Angeles reported.

In collaboration with Chicano lifestyle boutique Mi Vida and Quarantine Pizza eatery, Brewjeria Company created “Tomo La Flor,” a beer named after one of Selena’s classic hits, “Como La Flor.”

The exclusive beer was poised to captivate aficionados and enthusiasts alike with its distinctive taste and heartfelt tribute.

But then the entrepreneurs received a “cease and desist” letter from the Selena estate, and all plans to launch the beer were put on hold.

“It was a downer,” said Agustin Ruelas, the co-owner at Brewjeria told LAist. “We just wanted to honor Selena.”

The Rise of an Icon

Born on April 16, 1971, Selena broke barriers by becoming a popular Latina woman in the male-dominated Tejano music genre. When she was just 10, she was already  the lead singer of her family’s band, Selena Y Los Dinos.

Besides her amazing voice, her iconic style, from rhinestone belts to ruffled shirts, even earned her the nickname “Mexican Madonna.” But then it all came to an abrupt end.

In her short career, Selena won multiple Tejano Music Awards, five chart-topping singles on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks chart, and a Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Album in 1994.

Beyond her music, Selena’s life and legacy have been immortalized on the silver screen, with a 1997 biographical film starring Jennifer Lopez bringing her story to a wider audience. Moreover, in a testament to her enduring influence, Selena was posthumously honored in 2021 by the Recording Academy with the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, cementing her status as an icon in the annals of music history.

“Though she was fatally shot by the president of her fan club in 1995, the 23-year-old was able to accomplish some huge feats – from being credited with catapulting Latin music into the mainstream, to being one of the best-selling female artists in Latin music history.,” the site NationalToday writes.

The Bittersweet Tribute in a Brew

It seemed as an innocent tribute to Selena, but the beer launched in the singer’s honor garnered a letter from her estate. After selling about 1,000 cans, all plans to produce more of the brew came to a halt when the entrepreneurs received the “cease and desist.”

“Little people like us, we’re not making our livings off of this,” Reyes told LAist. “This was just to honor her. Folks like us, minorities, as brown folks, we don’t have many stars that look like Selena and achieved as much as she did.”

It’s not the first time the icon’s family has reached out like this.

“Selena’s father and her estate have sued many times over the years to protect the singer’s image and likeness. Last year, a cruise line was reportedly sued,” LAist writes. “A cover band was also sued, according to media reports. There were also legal efforts to halt production on a TV series about Selena.”

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Featured image is from the image Hoja Suelta, by José Guadalupe Posada, 1901.
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