"Dreaming of You" is just a fragment of what could have been a major crossover hit. A 13-song collection, it contains four English-language songs, combined with a remixed track previously recorded with Full Force, two English/Spanish duets (one with David Byrne and one with the Barrio Boyzz), two new Spanish-language tracks recorded for the film "Don Juan DeMarco" (in which Selena has a minor part as a mariachi singer) and several of her best-known tejano hits, including the infectious "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" and her final No. 1, "Amor Prohibido."
"We created a retrospective that will allow people who are buying a Selena record for the first time, because of the English-language songs, to hear the hits that got her where she was," EMI's Behar says.
The English-language tracks were designed to achieve the crossover dream. Working in Los Angeles and Nashville with such heavyweight producers as Keith Thomas (Vanessa Williams, Amy Grant, Whitney Houston), Guy Roche (Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Expose, Cher) and Rhett Lawrence (Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey), Selena shows a wide range of vocal textures and emotions. And the producers have created musical environments that are as sophisticated as anything you'd hear on, say, a Whitney Houston album.
"I remember we were in L.A. working on ["I Could Fall in Love"], and she got to bring a demo back to the hotel with her," says Chris Perez, her husband and the band's guitarist. "She sat there with the tape in her Walkman listening to it, analyzing it, over and over for hours, until like 2 in the morning. She was just happy to be doing it. She couldn't believe everything that was going on. It was a dream come true. For me just to have that, to know how happy it was going to make her, makes it all worthwhile. Yet, at the same time, she's not here to see it and enjoy it, so it's not the same."
Although EMI's Behar says that he signed Selena to the label in 1989 with eventual crossover to the pop charts in mind--"She was that needle in the haystack"--the singer appears to have been born to the spotlight.
"That was the goal from Day 1," says father Abraham Quintanilla. "That's what I had in mind when she was 6 years old. I had been an artist in the Tex-Mex market in the '60s, and so I knew the limitations. I'm telling you this not from a father's point of view, but from a musician's viewpoint, that she had it. With Selena, I always felt she had it. She was just a well-rounded package, with the voice, the looks, the moves, the instincts. I knew she could do it. Unfortunately, her life was cut short. . . . "
Quintanilla is clearly still grieving for his daughter, and the family is unsure of its next step. There is some talk of a tribute tour, but nobody seems too jazzed by the idea. Selena's brother A.B. says he wants to start a "weekend band that plays Bee Gees and old retro music I grew up on."
Chris still can't leave the house because people come up to console him, and, he says, "I end up consoling them." With the new album about to hit stores, "it's starting again," he says, referring to the tremendous outpouring of grief and support the family received in the weeks after Selena's death.
Here at the studio, a steady stream of visitors comes through the door. One, a grandmotherly type, pushes a young girl up to Suzette's desk. "Have you listened to the tape I sent you?" the woman asks. Suzette is polite, yet there is a glint in her eye. "No," she says, pointing to the drawer full of tapes. "We have received so many that we haven't had a chance to go through them all." The grandmother hands her another cassette. "This one is much better," she says.
After the pair leave, Suzette sighs and says, "It's hard. It's really hard. We know that people mean well, but we really haven't had time to mourn. It's just been crazy here."