The late, great banda singer Jenni Rivera once said “haters are just confused fans.” So it makes sense that although Jenni’s eldest daughter Chiquis seems to have an equal ratio of the latter to gung-ho cheerleaders, this in no way has deterred her from pursuing her own career in music.
And why should it? At 29, Chiquis has already endured more pain and tragedythan most people could conceive of (including losing her mother in a plane crash on Dec. 9, 2012) and has lived to tell the tale.
Despite being booed quite loudly on social media upon the release of her first single back in early 2014 (“Paloma Blanca” — more on that later), Chiquis dusted herself off and tried again, but not without remastering a few things, literally and figuratively.
When I first met Jenni Rivera’s eldest, Chiquis, she told me her dream was to be on the cover of Latina magazine. It was very special for me to write this one.
Click here to read the cover story.
The world lost one of its brightest stars on December 9, 2012. But for all her success, Jenni Rivera was also unapologetically real, vulnerable and accessible. In this exclusive interview, Rivera’s eldest daughter Chiquis reflects on the loss and honors the legacy of banda music’s reigning queen.
Read my exclusive interview with Chiquis on the new MySpace.
I know how this sounds, but it’s an honest question: doesn’t it seem like death and devastation were all up in the news in 2012? I think it started with Whitney Houston – a high-profile death that was not entirely shocking but nevertheless tragic.
There will never ever be another Whitney, just as there will never be another Jenni Rivera. These are women who left the world different than when they entered it. They inspired people. They opened doors for other artists after them. And many, many will mourn them – from those who knew them personally to those who felt extremely connected to them through their music.
I admit I did not sleep all that well in the days following the news of Jenni Rivera’s death. Following and covering the story of someone’s tragic and untimely death 24/7 will do something to you, will make you wonder things, like: What does looking at death mean to your own life? Is it a chance to make all your wrongs right? A chance to be grateful for what you take for granted? A chance to really start living?
It’s a little bit of everything, I think.
Jenni Rivera’s fans, friends, and family bid farewell to La Diva de la Banda today from the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles in a memorial service led by her brother, Rev. Pedro Rivera Jr.
The ceremony was not open to the press, only fans with tickets were able to attend, although a livestream was made available by several media outlets. Tickets, which were $1, appear to have sold out within the hour after they were made available on Tuesday. Even fans who didn’t get tickets found a place outside the theater to honor their idol, like Lisseth De Paz, 13, who watched the ceremony from a giant screen and held a Jenni Rivera poster and a white rose. “I love her,” she said. “I grew up listening to her music. My mom introduced me. I’ll always remember who she was and how she turned her stories into songs.”
Xochitl Rosas, 36, also had to watch from the outside. “I liked her trajectory, her life was meaningful to me,” she said. “Her songs gave me strength. She overcame domestic violence. It didn’t hold her back. She pushed forward. That helped me as a single mom to help my children and have them excel at anything.”
Jenni Rivera was never just a singer. She was a savvy businesswoman with her own real estate company, her own line of jeans, cosmetics, fragrances, and more. Recently, she had begun to build an impressive TV resume, as producer of several reality shows on mun2, including one centered on her own life, I Love Jenni. Her next TV project was to be a scripted comedy series in development for ABC, based loosely on her life.
Film was the next frontier for Rivera, and judging by her performance in the hip-hop driven indie drama Filly Brown, there’s no telling how far she could have gone as an actress.
Edward James Olmos, who served as executive producer on the film – which was written and directed by his son Michael D. Olmos and Youssef Delara – calls Rivera’s performance “Oscar-worthy.”
Rivera is hardly recognizable in the film, having shed her usual glammed up hair and make-up for the chola-inspired look of a drug-addicted, imprisoned mother whose daughter (Gina Rodriguez) turns to rapping to help bust her out of jail.
I had the chance to interview Rivera in January during the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie premiered to critical praise. She talked about going the Mariah Carey route in Precious, and how she managed to bring her character to life. It was such an honor to meet her in person and I will always be grateful for that opportunity.
Watch the video interview on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where it was originally posted.
There are great performers, and then there are game-changers. Jenni Rivera, who died at age 43 in a plane crash outside of Monterrey, Mexico early Sunday morning, was that rare breed of artist who will be remembered not only for her success, but for all the rules she re-wrote.
As the undisputed queen of banda music, her professional achievements within a male-dominated genre run deep – among her many feats, La Diva de la Banda sold some 1.2 million albums in the United States alone and sold out arenas like the Staples Center in Los Angeles, something no other female regional Mexican artist had done before. But make no mistake: nothing was ever handed to this woman.
Rivera was born in Long Beach, California on July 2, 1969, one of six siblings. The daughter of bartender-turned-music mogul Pedro Rivera, who launched his own record label, Cintas Acuario, in 1987 to produce the music of narcocorrido legend Chalino Sanchez, among others, and launch the career of his own son Lupillo, Jenni was a straight A student in high school. When she got pregnant with her first child as a sophomore, instead of dropping out, she earned her GED at a continuation school in 1987 – as the class valedictorian, no less – before going on to earn a college business degree in 1991.
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transports, confirmed on Sunday night that the remains of the private jet carrying Jenni Rivera have been found, with no survivors. Rivera, 43, was one of seven passengers.
Rivera’s father, Pedro, confirmed the news of his daughter’s passing to reporters stationed outside of his home in Lakewood, Calif., where several family members were gathered, including Rivera’s mother Rosa and her eldest daughter Chiquis, who has still not made any statements. Rivera’s father reportedly received the news via telephone from his son, singer Lupillo Rivera, who was in Mexico at the time of the jet’s disappearance. “This is the first tragedy of this kind that we suffer as a family,” Rivera’s father told reporters on Sunday evening. “I hope people remember her as she was – someone who was straight with the world.”
Celebrity reactions on Twitter have poured in since news of the disappearance of Rivera’s jet, including Paulina Rubio (who was set to co-host the Mexican edition of The Voice with Rivera) William Levy, Joan Sebastian, Ricky Martin, and others.