Today, Selena Quintanilla-Perez is known as the “Queen of Tejano Music,” the genre of dance music that originated near the Texas-Mexico border, but Laura Caneles is still the “Barbra Streisand of Tejano.” In the seventies and eighties, before Selena became a household name across the U.S., Laura was known as the first lady of Tejano music. Not only that, but she was one of the pioneering women in the genre who paved the way for Selena.
Now, their relationship is explored in Netflix’s new biographical drama, Selena: The Series. Laura makes her first appearance in the TV show’s third episode—and it’s a notable one— which might make you wonder how the two Tejano legends actually interacted in real life. Here’s what to know about Selena and Laura:
What was Selena and Laura’s relationship like in real life?
Laura was not only an inspiration to Selena, she was also a mentor of sorts to Selena as the younger artist became more popular, per Encyclopedia.com. Selena and Laura would often perform together, though at the height of Selena’s fame in the early 1990s, Laura had already left the music industry and gone back to school. She earned her degree in clinical psychology at Texas A&M—Kingsville in 1997 before going on to pursue a double master’s in clinical psychology and art, Texas Monthly reported.
Did Selena and Laura really meet in a bathroom?
Short answer: No one really knows. In Selena: The Series, Selena meets Laura in the bathroom at the 1986 Tejano Music Awards in San Antonio. At the awards, the two are competing against each other for Female Vocalist of the Year, which Laura had won several times before.
In the show, 15-year-old Selena beats her, but that didn’t happen in real life. In fact, Laura won both the female entertainer and female vocalist honors at the Tejano Music Awards from 1983 to 1987, according to Billboard. That record stood until Selena eclipsed it in the mid-nineties.
Given that the Selena writers kinda-totally changed a pretty important detail of the 1986 Tejano Music Awards show, it’s unclear whether or not the pair bathroom meeting is based in fact or fiction.
Did Laura attend Selena’s funeral?
Following Selena’s tragic murder at age 23, a group of fellow Tejano musicians reached out to Q Productions—Selena’s management company run by her father—to express their condolences and receive information about attending the funeral. Laura Canales was among them, along with Roberto Pulido, Bobby Pulido, David Lee Garza, Emilio Navaira, Elsa Garcia, La Mafia, Ram Herrera, Imagen Latina, and Pete Astudillo, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, the local paper of Selena’s hometown.
What happened to Laura after Selena’s death?
By the time Selena was a household name in the early 1990s, Laura had already left the music world. At the time of Selena’s death, Laura was enrolled at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, working towards her bachelor’s degree two decades after graduating high school. (She wanted to set a good example for the high school students who looked up to her.) “Going to school is about making sure you have options,” she told Texas Monthly. “Music can be very good to you, but it can be very bad too, because when you stop making money, you have no other options.”
Laura died at age 50 on April 16, 2005, due to complications from gallbladder surgery and pneumonia, according to the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). She was working towards her master’s degree at the time.
Veteran San Antonio songwriter and producer Luis Silva told Billboard after her death that, “Laura was as big as anyone could possibly be in the Tejano market of the ’80s. She was it.” Like Selena, Laura’s funeral service was attended by hundreds of friends, fans, and fellow Tejano musicians, per TSHA. Javier Villanueva, leader of the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame and Museum, said the eulogy, recalling Laura as a “loving daughter, sister, friend, and legend.”
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