Viva Selena: How an Austin Band Honors The Queen of Tejano Music

This year will mark the 20th anniversary Selena’s biopic release. Selena’s impact on music, pop culture and her fans is is still evident over 20 years after her death. Austin-based Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda recreates the live sounds of Selena’s music which  brings waves of nostalgia and joy to fans.   

Story by Jennifer Hernandez

Photos courtesy of Eric Celedon

Before a show, lead vocalist Stephanie Bergara can be found putting on Selena makeup curated famously by MAC. Bergara realized that she wanted to be a musician when she was eight years old and saw Selena on the Tejano Music Awards. Later in life, Bergara began recording herself singing and was accidentally discovered by a relative.       

“One of my aunts found my Soundcloud and started playing my recording of ‘No Me Queda Mas’[by Selena],” Bergara says. “I was just practicing, but they found my recording and they played it at a birthday party that I was not at. They didn’t know that I could do this and I didn’t know that I could do this. ‘No Me Queda Mas’ is definitely that gateway song that has led to all of this.”  

Bergara performs with a rose on stage.

Bergara performs with a rose on stage.

In 2008, Bergara pitched the idea of forming a Selena tribute band to her friend, Rocky Reyna. Although the group was meant to be temporary, Bidi Bidi Banda has since performed at The Empire Control Room and Pachanga Latino Music Festival. Reyna, the bass guitarist, grew up listening to Tejano music and his earliest memories of listening to Selena occurred before he was a teen. “To me there are artists and albums that you can listen to without having to skip songs,” Reyna says. “With her [Selena], anything she put out and anything she performed was amazing. I think every single song she wrote was a hit and I have nothing but really good memories about her music.”

Selena’s music contains many distinct genres such as Tejano, Mariachi and Cumbia. Capturing a similar sound requires a large band with different instruments. With multiple people needed to perform, and one challenge is getting everyone on the same schedule. Keyboardist Luis Sanchez lives further away from Austin, but enjoys playing and has recently gotten the opportunity to work with someone very close to Selena’s family. “I recently started working for her dad, so I think it’s cool to have grown up with her music, play in a tribute band, and then go work for her dad,” Sanchez says.       

Bidi Banda uses a variety of instruments to capture Selena's Tejano sound.

Bidi Banda uses a variety of instruments to capture Selena's Tejano sound.

Selena’s influence also extends beyond the music world. In 2016, makeup company MAC launched a line inspired by the artist’s songs. The line sold out immediately after the launch. Madame Tussaud revealed a wax figure of the Tejano star. Fiesta De La Flor, an annual music festival in Corpus Christi, celebrates the musician’s legacy and is now in its third year. Selena’s music continues to captivate the hearts of fans from many generations.“You didn’t necessarily had to have been alive while she was around but if your parents were cool, they would introduce you to Selena’s music” Reyna says. “I think no matter what age the audience is, they’re very much into the music, that’s how captivating her presence and her music is. She’s got the talent, she put in the work, and she definitely deserves to still be very much here and alive.”  

If one attends a future Bidi Bidi Banda show, it could potentially be sold out. Even with little space to move around, audiences still make the most of their space to dance. From the very first beat of the songs, the Selena fans know every lyric, pause and ad lib.

“Our biggest goal is to make sure we respect the music and that people can close their eyes and feel like they’re at a Selena show,” Bergara says. “The people who continue to come to our shows find that quality endearing. The people at our shows love these songs just as much as I do, and we should be able to hear them together.”