Amanda Solis has always had a tough time dealing with death, at least since she lost her parents in a car crash when she was 6 years old. In hindsight, there was some troubling irony when she auditioned for an upcoming episode of Murder Made Me Famous, the docudrama series this time focusing on Yolanda Saldivar, the woman who killed Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla in Corpus Christi on March 31, 1995.
When she first watched Selena perform on television years ago, Solis couldn't believe how much her mom resembled the superstar. From the bustier to the high-waisted pants to the beautiful round face and full lips, her mom had the same ‘90s Mexican-American look.
To be counted on and recognized for bringing the singer back to life is something very special for her, if a little morbid. "I can't believe that [the program’s creators] even came to request me," she tells us.
Solis came to embody one of the most famous Spanish-language artists of all time by accident. It all started as a ploy to get a free drink at a Kemah bar when friends urged her to enter the karaoke contest. "I sang 'Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,'” she remembers, “and no one ran out screaming, and I got my two free drinks.”
Shortly after, the DJ informed her she had won first place in the contest.
Solis hadn’t prepared for that victory; the love for the singer came from a place close to her heart. "Her music has always been in our family's lives," Solis says from her home in Texas City. "My mom dressed so much like here, it was crazy. Selena was always there with her music, and her concerts, posters and magazines.”
That karaoke win showed her Selena performances were in demand, and Solis went on to cover her songs countless times, going on tour with an Elvis tribute artist in Iowa and performing for charitable causes. She’s even done some private events, such as a Hollywood engagement for Dr. Phil’s son’s 30th birthday.
But despite what seems like her fame and fortune, Solis still works a day job as a home health aide and strives to make singing her main source of income. She recently signed a record deal and plans to release an album with her own music in tribute to Selena. She wants to come out as her own artist and not live in Selena's shadow forever.
Still, she feels privileged to be able to help people remember Selena. "I never knew that it was going to come down to that," she says.
Murder Made Me Famous: Yolanda Saldivar will air Saturday, Dec. 9 at 9 p.m. on REELZ. More info at reelz.com.