It's been 15 years since Selena Quintanilla-Pérez died at 24—tragically, and at the hands of her fan club's president—and it doesn't get any easier to explain her loss. The only thing that helps is to reflect on the legacy she's left behind: one that becomes more apparent each day as young artists inspired by the Tejana singer forge their own careers and inspire a new generation of Latinas to be their talented, strong and beautiful selves. Here's a look at the stars who now carry the torch for the one who left us too soon.
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Jennifer Lopez: Before her pitch-perfect portrayal of Selena (still the greatest role she's ever played) in a 1997 biopic, Jennifer Lopez was little more than a former Fly Girl and budding sex symbol. But Jenny sank her teeth so deeply into the role, we came away with a whole new understanding of our beloved Selena, and realized that we had another future Latina superstar in our midst...
Selena Gomez: This Disney starlet was named after Selena and met the late singer's brother at the 2008 ALMA Awards: "A.B. Quintanilla came up to me and said, 'I'm Selena's brother,' " Gomez recently told Latina, "and I said, 'I know who you are!' He told me that if I ever needed anything, to just let him know. I felt so honored."
David Archuleta: The American Idol alum was only 5 years old when Selena passed away, but he's no stranger to her catalog. Archuleta has revealed that his mother, Lupe, regularly sang Selena's music around the house during his childhood, and he even covered the singer's classic hit, "Como La Flor," at a recent concert in California.
Jennifer Peña: Selena's legacy continues to follow this Grammy-nominated singer, who also grew up in Corpus Christi and was originally managed by Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla. Peña first made waves at the age of 12, when she covered "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" at a Selena tribute concert, and soon became a pop star with her 2007 crossover album, Dicen Que El Tiempo, before settling down to raise a family with fellow boricua singer-songwriter Obie Bermudez. Here's hoping we haven't heard the last of her.
Kat DeLuna: There's a reason why DeLuna's far-reaching vocals often earn comparisons to Selena. The Dominican songstress has been emulating her since she was a little girl, as this clip of her singing "No Me Queda Más" so vividly—and adorably—shows.
Demi Lovato: Like her Disney BFF Selena Gomez, Lovato inspires young girls of all stripes—Latinas included—by pouring her heart into her music and being a positive role model for her fans. Selena would be proud.
Paula DeAnda: Raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, just like her predecessor, this teen pop singer often records in the same hometown studio and cites the Selena museum as one of her favorite places to visit. "I've always looked up to her so much because she was successful but really humble and took care of her fans," DeAnda told us in 2007. "And she's Latina—so you can't get any better than that."
Yolanda Perez: No one comes closer to approximating Selena's style today than Perez, a banda star and veejay for LATV's Mex 2 the Max who inspires a whole new generation of Mexican American girls by mixing up traditional banda music with traces of contemporary R&B and hip-hop.