There are few stories more inspiring, and more tragic, than the life and death of Jenni Rivera. She was an iconic singer who made an indelible impact on the world with her music, the power of her voice, and the confidence with which she conducted her life.
Rivera sold millions upon millions of albums around the world, earning her a spot as the most successful woman on the Billboard Latin charts. A mother, a sister, a friend, a wife, and a shrewd business owner who was on the verge of a major English album crossover when her life came to a tragic – and some consider a suspicious – end.
Reminiscing on the fully-loaded life of Jenni Rivera
Jenni Rivera was born into what many would consider Banda royalty as she was the daughter of Pedro Rivera and sister of Lupillo Rivera. Carrying that legacy, Jenni began her career in the early 90s when she began working at her father’s record label, Cintas Aquarius. Her first recording was a song she did for her father's birthday. Her voice didn’t go unnoticed by her family.
After landing a contract, Jenni recorded her 1995 album Las Chacalosa, which drew immediate attention due to its corrido and (more importantly, and less common with women at the time) narcocorrido influences.
Her career constantly took her on the path of the narcos, who would often hire Rivera to perform at private parties for the cartels during the beginning of her career. This often became an offer that would be dangerous to refuse. By singing the songs that revealed the over-sensationalized truths of the narcos’ world along with her connection to cartels due to her fame, Rivera not only gained huge popularity, but she also put herself in danger.
The plane crash that took her life, as well as the lives of six others, has still been considered suspicious to this day due to the somewhat inexplicable nature of the crash. After all, she did have a previous history with narcos.
We will never know what else she would’ve contributed to the world. One thing that is certain is that after her two-decade career, Rivera left an impact that will never disappear.
Olivia Monahan Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.