Jenni Rivera, a Mexican-American singer and the female face of the male-dominated banda music scene, died in a plane crash in Northern Mexico on Dec. 9.
Known as the “Diva of Banda,” for her presence as one of the biggest stars of the brassy-based form Spanish-language pop music, the 43-year-old artist sold 1.2 million records in the U.S. and won the awards for best female artist and banda album of the year for Joyas Prestadas: Banda at Billboard’s Mexican Music Awards in October. Seven of her albums have appeared on Billboard’s Top 10 Latin Albums chart, and she earned Latin Grammy nods in 2002, 2008 and 2011. Rivera was also the first female banda artist to sell out the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City.
(LIST: Top 10 Songs of 2012)
Off stage, Rivera was the star of I Love Jenni, a reality TV show about her family on NBCUniversal’s Mexican cable channel Mun2. A judge of the Mexican version of The Voice, Rivera was flying out to Toluca, Mexico, Sunday to tape an episode after performing for thousands of fans in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday night.
On the big screen, Rivera played the incarcerated mother of an aspiring hip-hop star in Filly Brown, an indie drama that premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
The Long Beach, Calif. native was the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She studied business administration and launched her music career in 1995 with the debut of “Chacalosa.” Her popularity took off when she signed with Fonovisa in 2005 and released “Partier, Rebellious and Daring.”
Recently she divorced Major League Baseball pitcher Esteban Loaiza, who has played for the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. She has five children, the first of which she became pregnant with in high school. She vowed she would persevere at a press conference Saturday night, according to the Associated Press:
“I can’t get caught up in the negative because that destroys you. Perhaps trying to move away from my problems and focus on the positive is the best I can do. 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.”
Here are a few clips that serve as testament to Rivera’s talent:
1. Rivera performing “La Gran Senora” (“The Great Lady”) at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles in August 2010. Rivera was the first artist to sell out two back-to-back nights at the theater.
2. The music video for “Basta Ya” (Enough),” (featuring Marco Antonio Solís), which peaked at No. 6 exactly this time last year, according to Billboard.
3. “De Contrabando” (2006) was her only No. 1 song on the Regional Mexican Airplay, per Billboard.
You can watch more of her performances on her YouTube channel.