Born and raised in the city of Azusa, the region that calls itself the Canyon City, one woman has taken the stage as the lead vocalist of Selenamos, a Selena Quintanilla tribute band.
With a voice that channels the spirit and energy of the late Tejano music legend, Lupita Huizar has become an icon in her own right, captivating audiences and honoring the memory of Selena.
In addition to her musical pursuits, Huizar is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in music industry studies at Cal Poly Pomona and is set to graduate this December.
“I’m a first-generation college grad in my family,” said Huizar. “It feels very surreal. I’m actually getting my degree this December. Everyone thinks that when you get out of high school, it’s just like a clear track. To, like, high school, college and then you’re out in the real world. For me, unfortunately, that’s never been the case.”
Growing up, Huizar never envisioned higher education as part of her future, as it was scarcely discussed in her home; however, one subject that remained a constant topic of conversation was music.
“My dad is a musician, and he grew up playing music, and so I just naturally followed in his footsteps,” said Huizar.
When Huizar started her educational journey at Citrus College, she immersed herself in the music program, connecting with a community of like-minded individuals. Nevertheless, at that point, the pursuit of a college degree and completing courses remained a distant consideration for her.
Fast forward to the pandemic, Huizar found herself working a stable job with a school district in Azusa. It was during this period she realized she aspired to achieve more to provide for her family. This realization prompted her to make the decision to return to school and pursue her bachelor’s degree.
Huizar’s initial decision to become a part of Selenamos can be traced back to her high school years, and this choice serves as a compelling and enduring element that reflects her passion for music.
“So, weird enough, I went to Azusa High School and got along pretty well with my French teacher at the time, Mrs. Mota,” said Huizar. “She was awesome and was like, OK you guys, my husband is in a band. After school one day, he’s going to bring his drum set, and you guys should all come and just hang out in the classroom.’”
Little did Huizar know her French teacher’s husband was none other than Gabriel Villa, the drummer of Chicano Batman at the time, and she maintained a connection with him ever since.
One day, Villa, who was already in Selenamos at the time, reached out to Huizar with an opportunity for her take on the role as lead vocalist for Selenamos as the current members were already moving on to future endeavors.
“I got super nervous, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, these are really big shoes to fill,’” said Huizar.
Being a lead vocalist for a tribute band based off Quintanilla comes with the responsibility of preserving the legacy of a beloved artist. It requires not only vocal and musical talent but also a deep understanding of Selena’s cultural significance and a commitment to delivering an authentic and respectful tribute to her artistry.
With the birth of this new band, Huizar enlisted the help of her friend Abraham Chavez to form Selenamos, and from that point on, they began to bring each other’s friends into the fold.
Huizar expressed her enthusiasm about the current state of their band, highlighting the chemistry and camaraderie within the group. She was particularly thrilled about their recent performance at the Ford Theater in Los Angeles, describing it as a fantastic and memorable event.
Huizar was clear about one thing: she doesn’t like to see herself as a Quintanilla impersonator. While she deeply admires Quintanilla and is dedicated to preserving her legacy, she recognizes her own efforts are a homage to a legendary performer she could never fully replicate.
“I never want to be too much of like a impersonator to be honest with you because I know never in my life, I could compare to her and what she’s done,” said Huizar. “I just watched a performance to study it, and it’s crazy because no matter how many times I watch it, I still get the chills. I’ll start practicing and I just stand there and stare at her through my screen, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe just how much of an incredible performer she was.’”
Quintanilla is known for having iconic songs that continue to resonate with audiences around the world. With many iconic tracks, like “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Como La Flor” and “Dreaming of You,” Huizar discussed the process of how she and the band choose which songs to perform.
“So, particularly for shows, we like to pick accommodating to what kind of show we’re playing because that’s how versatile Selena was,” said Huizar. “She has these up-beat cumbia kind of songs, but she also has these, from her ‘80s era, kind of rock-ish kind of songs and just different fun elements. On top of that, me and the guys, we just like to have fun with this.”
Taking the stage as the frontwoman of Selenamos has not only enabled Huizar to deliver electrifying performances, but it has also provided her with the extraordinary opportunity to forge memorable connections with her fans in the audience.
Huizar fondly recounted a particular incident that transpired during one of her recent performances. In this moment, she discovered a couple of young girls in the audience who were not just enjoying the music, but were immersed in the experience.
“A couple of shows ago, I was just singing, you know, just up there doing my thing, and a couple of little girls came up and started dancing,” said Huizar. “When they were dancing, they were holding their hearts, and you can tell they were feeling the music, and I kind of started choking up a little bit because I started to get teary-eyed, and I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, hold it together.’”
This particular moment held significance for Huizar. It served as a reminder of how Quintanilla’s legacy and music have the capacity to bridge the generational divide, bringing together young and old, uniting them in the shared love and resonance of the music that transcends time.
“It’s really cool how she started this legacy and how her music really does bring generations together,” said Huizar. “I remember being a child and watching her movie, right? And started to learn about her. It really started this love for music and this love for my culture, especially being a first-generation here.”
For Huizar, learning about Quintanilla growing up wasn’t just about enjoying her music; it was also about a journey of self-discovery and connection to her roots. As a first-generation American, Quintanilla’s legacy helped Huizar bridge the gap between her Mexican heritage and her life as an American in the United States.
“A lot of what I do, it’s fun,” said Huizar. “It’s fun just sharing the music and especially when everyone is singing along and being into it. I really hope that she knows what she did, you know? This movement of people. It’s very beautiful.”
For Huizar, this musical journey was not just about keeping the memory of a beloved artist alive, but also about fostering a sense of unity among those who came together to celebrate the vibrant fusion of music, identity and heritage Quintanilla represented.
As of right now, Selenamos does not have any public performances planned, but Huizar said the best way to keep in touch and stay updated on any future shows is through their Instagram account, @selenamosmusic