In front of a crowd of dozens, Justin Morris, a radio-television-film freshman, lip-synced and danced to the signature Congo sounds and electronic guitar riffs of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez’s music.
Morris, along with six other students, performed on stage at the first ever Flor Festival in the SAC Ballroom on Wednesday, hosted by the Campus Events + Entertainment Mexican American Cultures Committee.
The festival is named after the festival of flowers in Corpus Christi, and UT celebrated the birthday and legacy of Mexican-American entertainer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who popularized Tejano music with her outstanding vocals. Selena’s career was short lived because she was murdered at age 23.
“Every year there’s an annual festival on Selena’s birthday to pay a tribute for her in Corpus Christi, so we decided to bring that into UT,” event coordinator Kateleen Zermeno said. “We also got a lot of inspiration through her dance moves and her concerts, so that’s what we tried to incorporate into the event.”
Activities at the event also included a performance by a Selena impersonator, a photo booth and a Selena-themed bingo game.
Morris, who practiced all day for his performance of Selena’s song “La Carcacha” said he attended the festival because of the influence that Selena’s performances have had on his family and Tejano culture.
“A lot of people that aren’t native to Texas may not necessarily know Selena and take pride in her as much as us Texans do, so celebrating her culture is very valuable to me,” Morris said. “Having a whole festival, no matter how big or small, dedicated to her is something that’s very impactful to the Mexican-American, Tejano and Latinx community,” Morris said.
Zermeno, human development and family sciences sophomore, said Selena is a female icon.
“The event is promoting the Chicano culture and educating people about the fact that she’s one of the most legendary Mexican-American singers ever,” Zermeno said. “She performed in a time where females weren’t really seen singing professionally, so that’s what makes her a huge inspiration to us.”
Paloma Ayala, Mexican American Cultures Committee chair, said she feels like the event’s activities provided students with more information about Selena’s image and why she is still iconic.
“This event really impacts all students and teaches them more about Selena, especially during this time when her music is being appreciated and her image and fan group are increasing,” bilingual education sophomore Ayala said.