Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera became a star for albums like La Diva En Vivo. Rivera produced 15 gold, 15 platinum and 5 double-platinum records. Later, this songstress became a reality-TV star, businesswoman and activist. Tragically, she died in a plane crash at age 43 on December 9, 2012.
Rivera's parents, Rosa Saavedra and Pedro Rivera, discovered they were expecting while illegally crossing from Mexico into the United States. Their daughter Jenni was born on July 2, 1969, in Los Angeles, and was baptized Dolores Janney Rivera Saavedra.
Rivera's youth wasn't easy. She got pregnant at 15 by Trino Marin, and her parents booted her out of their house. She married Marin in 1984 and had two more children. Their union wasn't blissful; Rivera described their eight years as physically and mentally abusive. She still managed in this time to complete high school and college, studying business. But her volatile marriage led to depression and two suicide attempts. Eventually, Rivera left her husband, reconciled with her parents and started working for her dad's record label, Cintas Acuario. There she discovered a new dream, singing.
The hopeful artist performed in bars, which is how she met Juan López. Shortly after getting hitched to him in 1997, López was sentenced to six months in prison for smuggling immigrants. After his incarceration, the couple had two children. But López's unfaithfulness caused the couple's demise in 2003. While Rivera's marriage sank, her music soared. She signed with the label Fonovisa, and this up-and-comer's first record, "Que Me Entierren con la Banda," was a hit. The Spanish-singing Rivera soon became known to a growing fan base as "La Diva de la Banda."
However, her time enjoying the spotlight came to a halt when Rivera discovered that her first husband had molested her daughters and sister. He evaded capture for nine years before being sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2006. Then her second husband was sentenced to 10 years for dealing drugs, dying in prison in 2009. Despite these devastating occurrences, Rivera kept churning out hit albums and earning Latin Grammy and Billboard nominations.
Three More Careers
Rivera's painful past inspired her journey from singing to charity work. In 2010, she was named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She also founded the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation to help women who have been the victims of violence, children with cancer, and immigrants.
During this time, her fame grew even more after marrying former baseball player Esteban Loaiza and starring in several reality-TV series with her family: Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis & Raq-C (2010), I Love Jenni (2011) and Chiquis 'n Control (2012). On top of starring in these popular programs, she turned business mogul, launching Jenni Jeans, Divine Music, Divina Realty, Jenni Rivera Fragrance and Divina Cosmetics.
Amidst multiple professional successes, Rivera filed for another divorce while the press buzzed about unconfirmed rumors of an affair between Loaiza and the singer's daughter, Chiquis. Regarding the split, Rivera said in a press conference, "I am a woman like any other, and ugly things happen to me like any other woman. The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up."
In a catastrophic twist of fate, the 43-year-old star died right after that event on December 9, 2012, in a plane crash. But her music is her legacy; she sold more than 15 million copies of her 12 major-label albums. In a fitting tribute, her family had Latin radio stations play her song "La Gran Senora" (The Great Lady) on the day of her memorial.
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