‘Selena: The Series’ Episode 3 ‘And The Winner Is...’: Why Suzette Quintanilla did NOT want to be a drummer?
Spoilers for ‘Selena: The Series’ Episode 3 ‘And The Winner Is...’
One of the first female drummers in the Tejano Music Industry, Suzette Quintanilla's poignant story takes center stage. Born on June 29, 1967, the elder sister in the Quintanilla family started playing drums and percussion for the family band Selena y Los Dinos at the age of 13. Did you know she never wanted to play drums when she was young? Remember how a young Suzette asked her father in the Jennifer Lopez-starrer ‘Selena’: “Have you ever seen a girl playing the drums?”
In the third episode, ‘And The Winner Is...’, we see her struggling with the instrument in one of her early days. In one touching flashback, Abraham Quintanilla (Ricardo Chavira) and AB Quintanilla (Gabriel Chavarria) discuss a flop performance. While AB defends the band saying, “It wasn't us. It was a lousy crowd,” Abraham shoots back, “There's no such thing as a lousy crowd. The crowd is the boss. If people are dancing, good. Not dancing? That means change the song fast.” AB then confesses that he can't merge the songs fast because Suzette can't change beats that fast. The scene shifts to the present time. Suzette winks at AB and changes the pace of her drums in a heartbeat.
From discarding the drums to being one of the best drummers, Suzette's story is one for the ages. It's a shame no one really talks about her talent and even in her interviews, she focuses more on her sister Selena instead of her own journey. After her sister's death, she bid goodbye to her music career and is currently involved with her father's Latin entertainment company Q-Productions, Inc.
Interestingly, the title of the episode ‘And The Winner Is...’ is named after the band's 1987 album and it looks back to that year's Tejano Music Awards where Selena won the Female Vocalist of The Year when she was 15. Along with Selena, Suzette released more than half a dozen albums that won several awards. In a video interview, she narrated how she first picked up the drumsticks.
“It [Drumming] wasn't the first labor of love, definitely,” she said, adding, “My cousin wasn't there and there was a new drumset on which he was supposed to be the drummer... He ended up moving back with his family and there was only one kid left. At that time, there were no female drummers except Shiela E. So I grew to love it. I can still play drums — a little dust may come out of my shoulders (jokes) — but I can play and I last played with my brother at Fiesta de la Flor.”
In another rare interview, Suzette looked back to the good old days and said, “We were the queens! Everybody treated us with the utmost respect. They were like our brothers, you know? They were very protective of us. You have to understand, we were traveling with our mom and dad. It was a family thing. So, there was nobody being disrespectful. The guys really watched over us. I loved our crew and our band. They were like an extension of our own family.”
“We were worried that we weren't going to be accepted into Mexico,” Suzette said. “And it's not like [our not speaking much Spanish] meant that we weren't proud of our culture. It's just not how we grew up.” But, in the end, Suzette went back to Selena's music, saying it “transcends over everything.” The episode ends with a young girl asking for Suzette's autograph instead of Selena. Shocked, Suzette points to herself and asks, “Me?” The young girl, Gabrielle, tells her, “I want to be a drummer like you. I've never seen a woman play drums.” Suzette may have been in Selena's shadow all her life but she is a star in her own right, isn't she? Her story is fascinating to bits and it needs to be told more.
‘Selena: The Series’ starts streaming with nine new episodes from Part One on Friday, December 4, 2020 on Netflix.