There’s no denying Selena’s life, cut too short, has left a lasting impression on the world. And, now the music industry’s learned academy is celebrating her impact.
The late Mexican-American singer, known as la Reina de la Musica Tejana, is among the six artists selected by the Recording Academy to receive 2021 Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Selena, who was shot and killed on March 31, 1995, 16 days before her 24th birthday, by her friend and the former manager of her Selena Etc. boutiques, received two Grammy nominations in 1993-94. She won the 1993 award for best Mexican American album for Live, marking the first time a female Tejano artist had won in the category.
Selena ranks among the most influential Latin artists of all time and is credited for catapulting a music genre into the mainstream market. She has sold around 30 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling female artists in Latin music.
This year’s other lifetime achievement award recipients include Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Salt-N-Pepa, Talking Heads, Marilyn Horne and Lionel Hampton.
The honorees will be recognized on the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on January 31, and at greater length subsequently. For the last five years, the Special Merit Awards honorees were saluted on a PBS special, Grammy Salute to Music Legends.
“As we welcome the new class of Special Merit Award honorees, it gives us a chance to reward and recognize the influence they’ve had in the music community regardless of genre,” Harvey Mason Jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement.
Here’s a detailed look at this year’s honorees:
Lifetime Achievement Awards:
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: The group was formed in the South Bronx in 1978. The group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, consisted of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, The Kidd Creole, Keef Cowboy, Mr. Ness/Scorpio and Rahiem. The group was praised for its use of turntablism, break-beat deejaying, choreographed stage routines, and lyricism. The group’s 1982 classic “The Message” was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012.
Lionel Hampton: The jazz musician started his career as a drummer in Chicago in the 1920s before he played the vibraphone with Louis Armstrong. In the 1930s, he broke barriers with the Benny Goodman Quartet, one of America’s first integrated jazz bands. In the 1940s, he formed his own Lionel Hampton Orchestra, which became one of the longest running orchestras in jazz history. Hampton received five Grammy nominations between 1984 and 1991, but he never won. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1992. Hampton and his Orchestra’s 1942 classic “Flying Home” was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996. Hampton died in 2002 at age 94.
Marilyn Horne: The opera star, 86, received four Grammys, including the 1964 award for most promising new classical recording artist. (She has now officially fulfilled that promise!) Horne received 15 Grammy nominations between 1964 and 1993. She received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1995.
Salt-N-Pepa: The trio, consisting of Salt (Cheryl James), Pepa (Sandra Denton) and DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper), was one of the first all-female rap ensembles. Formed in Queens, New York, in 1985, the group crafted hits such as “Push It,” “Shoop” and “Whatta Man.” The group received five Grammy nominations between 1988 and 1996. It won the 1994 award for best rap performance by a duo or group for “None Of Your Business.”
Selena: The Tejano queen received two Grammy nominations in 1993-94. She won the 1993 award for best Mexican American album for Live, marking the first time a female Tejano artist had won in the category. Selena was just 23 when she was shot to death in 1995.
Talking Heads: The group, formed in 1975 in New York City, helped to pioneer new wave by blending elements of punk, rock, art pop, funk, and world music with an avant-garde aesthetic. The group received two Grammy nominations (in 1983 and 88), but never won. Group member David Byrne went on to win a Grammy and an Oscar on his own for co-scoring The Last Emperor. Byrne also made the cover of TIME in October 1986 in a story titled “Rock’s Renaissance Man.” The other group members were Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison. In 2002, 11 years after the group disbanded, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.