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.”
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.