“She sang about women for women. She was a single mother who became the sole provider for her family and would literally do anything she could for her children,” said Griselda Flores, senior writer for Billboard. .
“She’s a woman who has gone from being a teenage mother to a musical powerhouse,” said ABC7 Los Angeles presenter Jovana Lara.
Jenni was known for singing rancheras and corridos, traditional music rooted in Mexican and Latino culture.
The Triumphs and Tragedy of Jenni Rivera
“She holds almost every record,” Flores said. “We’re talking millions of records sold, and so I think it’s opened people’s eyes to the fact that men aren’t the only ones who can get those numbers.”
Many would agree that Jenni was once at the top of the music world. Her rise to fame in a male-dominated genre was unprecedented, and her musical talent captured the hearts of millions of fans, especially women who felt connected to her authenticity on stage.
Then, on December 8, 2012, the singer flew out to perform at a sold-out show in Monterrey, Mexico.
“Thousands of fans were there to see this amazing performance,” said Robert Holguin, a former ABC7 Los Angeles reporter. “Holds a press conference, even talks to reporters, flies out of Monterrey with his entourage, then the jet just disappears.”
“I had never really heard of Jenni Rivera, but I knew it was a great story,” said Frank Alli, photographer for ABC7 Los Angeles. “It didn’t really hit me until we got there, and I saw fans lining up at the morgue, tons of media.”
By then, officials had located scattered items potentially belonging to the singer and six other people, but no immediate finds or confirmation of human remains.
“This really tragic story came through very clearly,” Holguin said.
A few days after the plane disappeared, Mexican authorities confirmed that Jenni and six other people had died in a plane crash.
His family was devastated, his children’s lives were changed forever, and fans around the world mourned the tragic loss of the 43-year-old artist who was truly beginning to share his incredible talents with the world.
“It was a very emotional scene to capture,” Alli said. “The impact she had was similar to the impact [Kobe Bryant] had on Southern California fans. It was more of an emotional connection that intensified their loss even more.”
The Mexican Aviation Investigation Agency concluded that a series of factors may have contributed to the accident: the age of the pilot and the age of the plane.
The Mexican aviation officials’ report also noted that the plane’s owner failed to report previous problems with the plane’s operation before the night flight.
Jenni Rivera’s Roots and Rise to Stardom
Jenni was born and raised in Long Beach, California to a Mexican-American family. Her mother, Rosa Rivera, was instrumental in shaping who she became.
The Rivera family has deep musical roots in the entertainment industry, beginning with family patriarch Don Pedro Rivera.
“The Rivera surname carries a lot of weight in the industry. His father, Don Pedro Rivera, is a staple to this day in the Mexican region,” Flores said.
Don Rivera is known for being instrumental in advancing musical careers, like Chalino Sanchez and his own son, Lupillo Rivera.
Jenni attended Polytechnic High School, and although she was “expelled” for becoming pregnant as a teenager, she eventually earned her GED and graduated her high school class farewell.
In fact, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal State University Long Beach. She had business savvy, but it was her voice that captured the hearts of fans.
Then, after singing for about six years in 1999, she decided to fully pursue a career as a professional singer. It was then that his fame rapidly increased.
“His lyrics were very intimate, personal and powerful,” Flores said.
“His music would just empower me,” said Los Angeles fan Kathy Rojas.
At 43, Jenni was the most successful singer in the male-dominated Banda genre.
“On stage, she bared her soul. It was her music and candid lyrics that catapulted her to fame,” Lara said.
Jenni has won 22 Billboard Latin Music Awards.
“She was so for everyone. The song titles, like, for example, my favorites are like ‘Reina de Reinas’. She’s all encompassing and so good,” Guzman said.
Women were drawn to Jenni’s authenticity and her ability to sing about her failures, shortcomings, successes and triumphs.
Female fans felt recognized and seen by Jenni’s music. The Long Beach native brought a much-needed female perspective to the genre.
“So his fans adapted his songs as their anthems,” Flores said.
“So many people who didn’t support her career at all, and she got the ‘You’re too old, you weigh too much,'” said Antonia Garcia-Orozco, associate professor at Cal State University Long Beach.
The music superstar faced heartbreak, failed relationships, domestic violence, sexism and discrimination, but she kept moving forward.
“Her aura is amazing,” said Martin Flores, a musician from the Joyas Prestadas tribute band who worked with the singer on her latest record.
“Jenni was bigger than real life, and when she bonded with her audience, she can make them cry, she can make them laugh, she can make them party,” said fellow musician Bob Bernstein. of the Joyas Prestadas tribute band.
Flores said Jenni proved to women that they too overcome hardships and succeed in any field they choose as long as they work hard and don’t give up.
Jenni Rivera’s children
Beyond music, to really get to know Jenni, her story begins in Long Beach with her family.
“There’s Jenni the artist and there’s Jenni the mom. I think I always miss her more as a mom,” Jenni’s daughter Jacqie Rivera said.
Jenni had five children: Chiquis, Mike, Jenicka, Johnny and Jacqie.
“My mom was the kind of person who didn’t take things for granted,” said Johnny Lopez, Jenni’s youngest son. “She just had such a comforting and loving presence, and I think that’s what we all miss about her.”
“I wish a lot of people knew more. Her faith was really strong, and I think it was because she recognized that it was thanks to God that she got to where she was,” said said Jacqie Rivera.
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“When it comes to love, the idea of glamor, she fit that, but she was also the simplest of people, and that’s my favorite version of my mom,” said son Mike Rivera. Jenni’s eldest.
Her children said they inherited their mother’s strength, faith and humility.
Jenni Rivera’s Legacy
Part of Jenni’s legacy is seen in her devoted fan base.
Frank Rojas and his mother, Kathy Rojas, are longtime Los Angeles-based Jenni fans. They say his life had a positive impact on them when they needed it most.
“She really helped me admit that I’m gay and I’m gay Mexican,” Rojas said. “It was like you were right there on stage with her.”
Kathy Rojas thinks there will “never be anyone else” like Jenni.
“She stood up for the gay community when it wasn’t cool or other people weren’t and certainly not the regional music people,” said Eduardo Lucero, one of Jenni’s creators. “She gave hope to the gay community.”
Jenni has inspired so many people from all walks of life, and while there are many tragic elements to her story, there is much to celebrate.
“She had musical acumen, business savvy, social savvy,” Garcia-Orozco said. “We will honor him, respect his music and teach it to future generations.”
“Year after year, Selena Quintanilla and Jenni Rivera top our Billboard charts, so to me, that’s someone who’s a legacy artist,” Flores said.
Jenni’s children hope their mother’s legacy will inspire people to pursue their dreams no matter what happens to them.
“Anyway if they experience domestic violence, or, you know, their life didn’t turn out the way they planned keep believing because if it could happen for her, a girl from Long Beach , it could happen for them,” said Jacqie Rivera.
You can learn more about Jenni Rivera’s children and explore her incredible legacy in “On The Red Carpet: Remembering Jenni Rivera,” which airs Saturday at 10 p.m. on ABC7.
For more updates on the singer, follow Jenni Rivera on Facebook or Instagram or follow her music and fashion websites.
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