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Soundtrack to 'Selena' Will Be Released Today

Pop music: Unreleased works of slain tejano superstar are included on the album, which arrives at stores before Warner Bros. film debuts.

March 11, 1997|ANGIE CHUANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Heralding it as a grand finale, EMI Latin today will release the soundtrack for the upcoming "Selena" movie, which represents the last previously unreleased recordings by the slain tejano superstar.

"This is basically it. This is the last of the catalog," said EMI Latin President-CEO Jose Behar, who produced the album with Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr. "It's no accident. We could have released some of these songs earlier, but we wanted them for the movie."

The movie, directed by Gregory Nava ("Mi Familia"), recounts the rise of Selena Quintanilla Perez (she was married to her band's guitarist, Chris Perez), who went from regional popularity in South Texas to budding crossover superstardom. Selena died in March 1995--three weeks shy of her 24th birthday--after being shot by the former president of her fan club, who was also managing the singer's clothing boutiques.

With a publicity boost from the Warner Bros. bio-pic, which debuts March 21, Behar confidently projects the album will sell at least 3 million units in the United States. Such figures would surpass the impressive sales for the singer's first predominantly English-language album "Dreaming of You," which was released after her death and sold more than 2 million units.

For Selena's father, who was her manager, producing a second mainstream-appeal album fulfills an unrealized dream.

"We worked so hard for this, and my daughter was killed right at the edge of crossing over," Quintanilla said. "I feel this thing inside me. I want to keep her memory alive, so people who didn't know her will get to know her through music."

Of the soundtrack's 12 songs, four are medleys remixed from a concert at the Houston Astrodome one month before her death. The album's first single, the disco medley "Last Dance/The Hustle/On the Radio," made its nationwide radio debut last month.

Billy Burke, on-air personality for KIIS-FM (102.7), said response to the single has been "phenomenal."

"It really crosses all demographic barriers. We've got Latin music fans, disco fans, dance music fans . . . everyone calling in requests," Burke said.

The music video for this medley, featuring movie footage juxtaposed with clips from Selena's Astrodome concert, has been sent to MTV and VH-1. In addition, a one-hour tribute to Selena on VH-1 will air Monday at 9 p.m. Three original ballads recorded in 1990--"Only Love," "Where Did the Feeling Go?" and "Is It the Beat"--provide a glimpse of Selena as a budding artist.

Another song on the album, Selena's version of "A Boy Like That," had been included on a RCA Victor compilation called "The Songs of 'West Side Story,' " released in January 1996. Behar wanted the track--said to be her final recording session--to reach a wider audience.

Also on the soundtrack is "Viviras Selena" ("You Will Live On, Selena"), a musical tribute sung by a smattering of tejano musicians and pop artists, including Barrio Boyzz and Emilio--which was released last week on Spanish-language radio stations. Locally, the single is getting airplay on KLAX-FM (97.9) and KLVE-FM (107.5), among others.

"Selena was an artist who could sing different genres of music and put the right feelings to it, put soul to it," Quintanilla said. "She sings from the heart. I wanted the soundtrack to show what Selena was."

As for future Selena albums, the well is hardly dry. Quintanilla said he is planning on re-releasing with EMI Latin some of the five albums worth of material that Selena recorded when she was younger. Most of these songs have not been heard outside South Texas, he said. Behar said he has plans for a collector's boxed set of reissues in the near future.

"At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to continue her legacy and to do it in a tasteful, and not purely commercial, manner," Behar said. "She blessed us with this much music, and I don't just want novelty singles. This is about creating the real deal, something that is lasting."

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