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Where to celebrate Selena's birthday, plus festivals, concerts honoring Latinas

Nancy Flores
Selena performs at Hemisfair Plaza in San Antonio on April 24, 1994. The late Tejano music star's April 16 birthday is celebrated by fans across the country. Photo by Sung Park /Austin American-Statesman.

For fans of pop culture icon and Tejano music queen Selena Quintanilla Pérez, April comes with a bittersweetness.

The superstar — who was killed in 1995 by her former fan club president in Corpus Christi — would have turned 48 on April 16. Fans across the country now ensure her legacy lives on with tributes and honors for the artist who broke barriers throughout her career.

In February, Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, D-Richardson, filed a bill that would recognize Selena’s birthday statewide. If the bill is approved by the Texas House's Culture, Recreation & Tourism committee, then it makes its way to the full House and Senate before reaching the governor’s office. If it becomes law, then all Texans will be able to officially observe the Queen of Tejano’s day each year.

But the remembrances and tributes don’t have to wait for the bill. Here are some ways Austinites can honor the artist who has earned a spot in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been immortalized as a wax figure at Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

Where to honor Selena’s memory:

April 3: Selena Drag Night Tribute at Elysium (705 Red River St.) Doors open at 10 p.m. Cover $6-8.

April 13: Selena tribute night concert at Sahara Lounge (1413 Webberville Road) with band Son de Rey. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Show at 10:15 p.m. $10 cover includes parking and African buffet.

April 14: Selena Drag Show Brunch at Michelada's Cafe y Cantina (333 E. Second St.), presented by The Q/La Q, a program of AIDS Services of Austin, starts at noon.

April 16:

  • Alamo Drafthouse “Selena” movie party and screenings at South Lamar, Mueller, Ritz, Lakeline and Village locations. Check for showtimes. Arrive early for a pre-show featuring Selena music videos and rare interviews. Props and a lyric sheet to sing along to her music will be provided.
  • TuezGayz Selena Night at Barbarella (611 Red River St.). Small Selena tributes every hour starting at 10 p.m. There’s a $5 cover after 11 p.m. According to organizers, “If you aren't queer or a respectful ally, this event is not for you.”
  • Painting with a Twist Round Rock location (1401 S. IH-35, Suite 140) “Queen of Tejano” $35 painting party from 7-9 p.m. The South Park Meadows and South locations have Selena-themed painting parties earlier on March 31. Check for details.

MORE SELENA: Remembering Selena 20 years after death

Celebrating Latinas

Whether it’s through film, art, literature or music, lifting the stories of strong women who are making strides in our community helps inspire more women to keep rising and, perhaps more importantly, offers young women hope that they, too, can strive for the mountaintop no matter the color of their skin or what last name they carry.

Keeping Latinas at the forefront is the statewide conference and music festival Chingona Fest Texas, which in its inaugural year in 2018 sold out. Now, the festival presented by social enterprise Hustle for the Cause, returns as a two-day event April 5-6.

A panel on Latina leadership and entrepreneurship kicks off the festivities at 6 p.m. April 5 at The Studio ATX. Featured panelists include Austin’s first Latina Mayor Pro-Tem Delia Garza and HeartFire Media Founder Samantha Najera.

Music begins at 11:30 a.m. at Hops and Grain Brewing with artists including Oakland’s Afro-Latin band La Misa Negra, Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda and sister rock trio Tiarra Girls. Full line-up and after party info at Tickets range from $30-60.

While at the fest, check out its food and vendor market. Last year, 97 percent of vendors who participated in the festival were small businesses owned and operated by Latinas, many of whom were first-generation entrepreneurs, according to Hustle for the Cause. Later in April, another event puts Latinas in the spotlight.

Inspired by trailblazing Mexican feminist, writer and Catholic nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Culture Center celebrates women with the La Mujer Festival from 3-8 p.m. April 13 at the center. From poetry readings to live music and gallery exhibits, the annual free event highlights women of all ages creating cultural work.

Art exhibits about topics such as the border wall by two Latina artists will also be on display. Don’t forget to stop by Frida Friday ATX at the festival, the marketplace featuring minority female artisans.

RELATED: Cine Las Americas names new director ahead of May festival

Music for the spirit

Whether its a message about pushing forward or a song about our history, singer-songwriters have the power to weave our stories together with music and the love needed to nourish the spirit.

Over the years, accomplished Latina singer-songwriters — such as Austin’s own Tish Hinojosa, who will be inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in April, internationally acclaimed Nicaraguan artist and activist Katia Cardenal and Puerto Rico-born Lourdes Pérez, who at the start of her career was among the first out Latina lesbians performing in the U.S. — have been key to raising awareness about the Latina experience.

Several special performances will bring these veteran musicians together to create moving and memorable evenings. Head to La Peña Gallery on Congress on March 30 for a presentation called Mujeres de Canción (Women of Song) featuring Hinojosa with Cardenal. Both women bring their powerful storytelling to the stage starting at 7 p.m. Admission is $20. Arrive early to also enjoy the gallery’s International Women’s Day exhibit still on display through April 10.

Mark your calendar for another must-see performance April 4 when the 17th annual ¡A Viva Voz! Celebration of Latina/o Arts and Culture at the University of Texas also features Tish Hinojosa but this time with Lourdes Pérez. The Cantos y Cuentos (Songs and Stories) free performance will be from 7-9 p.m. at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collection on the UT campus. Audiences will get a glimpse into the history behind each composer’s music as well as the friendship they’ve had over the years.