Honoring the Queen
A tribute band pays homage to late singer-songwriter, Selena
An icon in Latin communities across the country, Selena Quintanilla was known for crossing cultural boundaries and breaking records.
Topping the Latin charts in the early ’90s with singles including “Como la Flor” and “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” her career changed the music industry and opened doors for female Latin singers when there were very few artists that looked like her. On stage, she styled with bold red lipstick and long dark hair, and proudly flaunted her signature curves in costumes of her own design.
Selena’s life was tragically cut short when, at 23, she was shot by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar. Her death made international news and forever immortalized Selena in pop culture history.
More than 20 years since her passing, Selena’s music lives on through tribute acts such as the Como La Flor Band, which plays Ace of Spades in Sacramento on Friday, Dec. 13.
Founded in 2011 in Holtville, a small city in Imperial County, the eight-member group has spent the last few years touring the country and performing a medley of the late singer’s hit songs to sold-out audiences. Lead singer Nira Perez Ruiz is a lifelong fan of Selena and, just like her, started singing at a young age.
“I grew up with Selena. All my family listened to her, so I grew up listening to her music. She was part of my childhood,” Perez Ruiz says.
She also happens to look a lot like Selena. “People started suggesting that I do a tribute to her,” Perez Ruiz recalls. “They said, ’You resemble her voice and her image, so you should give it a shot.’”
In 2017, she officially joined as lead singer of Como La Flor.
But there’s more to performing a Selena tribute than just singing her songs. There’s also the matter of stage presence. “I started practicing her videos and her moves to emulate her on stage, not just vocally, but in every sense,” Perez Ruiz says. “What we aim to do is to try to give the people that didn’t have the chance to see her live to get that experience.”
She, along with the rest of the band will be performing at Ace of Spades for Selena Fest, where attendees can dress up in their favorite Selena-inspired outfits, hit the dance floor and honor the career of a woman who redefined Tejano, cumbia and Latin pop music.
Although it may seem like big shoes to fill, for Perez Ruiz it’s an honor to imitate the late icon. Each performance is done with a lot of love and respect.
“I’m blessed to be able to do what I do. Not only do I enjoy myself as a musician, but I enjoy myself as a fan,” she says. “People actually say, ’Wow, I’m reliving my childhood,’ or, ’I never got to see her, and I feel like I’m actually seeing her.’ So that means a lot to me.”