Biography of Jenni Rivera
Jenni Rivera – American singer, songwriter, actress, television producer, spokesperson, philanthropist, and entrepreneur.
Name: Dolores Janney “Jenni” Rivera Saavedra
Date of Birth: July 2, 1969
Place of Birth: Long Beach, California, United States
Date of Death: December 9, 2012 (aged 43)
Place of Death: Iturbide, Nuevo León, Mexico
Occupation: Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Author, Spokesperson, Fashion designer, Television producer, Entrepreneur
Father: Pedro Rivera
Mother: Rosa Saavedra
Spouse/Ex: José Trinidad Marín (m. 1984; div. 1992), Juan López, (m. 1997; div. 2003), Esteban Loaiza (m. 2010)
Children: Chiquis Rivera, Jacquie Marin, Jenicka Lopez, Johnny Lopez, Michael Marin
An American singer and television personality, loomed large in the Latin music scene as the so-called diva of banda, Jenni Rivera was born on July 2, 1969, and raised in Long Beach, California, U.S. to Rosa Saavedra and Pedro Rivera, who were from Mexico. The legendary singer was well known for her signature style of Banda and Ranchera music and is regarded by several media organizations as one of the most influential musicians to establish Mexican music in the world. In life and death, several media outlets including CNN, Billboard, Fox News, and The New York Times have labeled her as the most important female figure and top-selling female artist in the Mexican music genre. Billboard magazine named her the “top Latin artist of 2013”, and the “best selling Latin artist of 2013”.
During her two-decade-long music career, Rivera had released eleven studio albums including ‘Parrandera, Rebelde y Atrevida’ and ‘Jenni’ which took her name to the top of the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. She was nominated four times at the Latin Grammy Awards and was awarded a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars for being one of the best-selling regional Mexican musicians. Besides her music career, she was also known for her work on television.
In the early 2000s, Rivera was often criticized and was refused bookings at venues across California for performing Banda music a male-dominated music genre. However, her popularity grew after she won the Lo Nuestro Award for Regional Mexican Female Artist of the Year in 2007, which she won nine consecutive times. Her tenth studio album, Jenni (2008) became her first No.1 record on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart in the United States. In 2010, she appeared in and produced the reality TV show Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis & Raq-C. She also appeared in and produced I Love Jenni starting in 2011 through 2013 and Chiquis ‘n Control in 2012. Her acting debut was in the film Filly Brown, which was released in 2013.
Rivera produced the Mexican-American reality television series ‘I Love Jenni’, ‘Chiquis & Raq-C’, and ‘Chiquis ‘n Control’. She is remembered for her humanitarian work as well and was appointed as the spokesperson by The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. ‘Jenni Rivera Day’ is celebrated on August 6 by the Los Angeles City Council every year in her honor.
Aside from music, she was active in her community and donated her time to civic causes. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence appointed her its spokesperson in the United States. A proclamation was given officially naming August 6 “Jenni Rivera Day” by the Los Angeles City Council for all her charity work and community involvement.
Childhood, Family and Educational Life
Jenni Rivera, by name of Dolores Janney Rivera Saavedra, was born in Long Beach, California, the U.S. on July 2, 1969. Her mother Rosa Saavedra and father Pedro Rivera raised her and her five siblings in a musical environment. Rivera was introduced to the Banda musical genre and Mexican music by her family. Rivera spoke both English and Spanish fluently. Her father was a bartender and businessman who created the record label Cintas Acuario in 1987, which launched the career of Mexican singer and songwriter Chalino Sánchez.
Rivera earned straight A’s in school until her sophomore year when at 15 she became pregnant with the first of her five children, Janney “Chiquis” Marín-Rivera. She supported the two of them by selling CDs at flea markets while working toward her GED at a continuation school and graduating as class valedictorian. Speaking in 2003 of her experiences as a teenage mother, Rivera explained, “Usually, when a young girl is pregnant, she drops out of school and concentrates on being a mother. I thought that’s what I had to do, but my counselors told me there was no way they would let me drop out. I had too much promise.” She attended California State University, Long Beach, and obtained a college degree in business administration and worked in real estate before going to work for her father’s record label.
While still in school, Jenni Rivera became pregnant with José Trinidad Marin’s child and gave birth to their daughter, Janney Marín Rivera, at the age of fifteen. The couple later married in 1984 and had two more children, Jacqueline and Michael. Rivera was sexually and physically assaulted by Marin a number of times, and later through a medical examination, it was revealed that their daughter Janney had also suffered abuse at the hands of her father. The couple ended their marriage in 1992. Rivera eventually filed a case against him and her ex-husband spent nine years as a fugitive before he was apprehended. Upon his apprehension, he was given a 31-year long prison sentence without parole.
Rivera married her second husband, Juan López, in 1997. They had daughter Jenicka in 1997 and son Juan Angel in 2001 before they divorced in 2003. In 2007, López was convicted of selling drugs. He died from complications of pneumonia while in prison in 2009. Her third and last marriage was with Esteban Loaiza, a former Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player, in 2010. After two years of married life, they filed for divorce which was never finalized due to Rivera’s death.
In June 2008, Univisión reported that Jenni Rivera was arrested after a concert in Raleigh, North Carolina, for allegedly hitting a fan. She was detained for a few hours but released shortly after paying $3,000 bail. In October 2008, a sex video featuring Rivera began circulating. Rivera was arrested on May 18, 2009, by customs authorities at the international airport in Mexico City. She failed to declare $52,467 cash in her purse. Rivera later paid a fine of $8,400 and was released. According to New York Daily News, Rivera worked as a performer for drug cartel parties in 2009.
On August 6, 2010, Jenni Rivera was named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. A proclamation was given “officially naming” August 6 “Jenni Rivera Day” by the Los Angeles City Council for all her charity work and community involvement. Rivera was a Christian and her brother Pedro Rivera Jr. is the pastor of the Primer Amor Church in Whittier, California.
Career and Works
Jenni Rivera was the daughter of a self-made Latin recording mogul, and she began her singing career in the 1990s. She had started singing from a very tender age; however, it was on 1992 Father’s Day when she made her first recording which was a tribute to her father; she made more recordings and signed to Capitol/EMI’s Latin division.
Rivera found it tough to break into the typically male-dominated Mexican music industry. She once confessed that one radio programmer from Los Angeles threw her music CD into the trash bin in her presence. She independently released an album ‘Farewell to Selena,’ which was a tribute to the ‘Queen of Tejano music’ Selena Quintanilla-Pérez who was murdered in 1995.
In a 2011 interview with Billboard magazine, Rivera stated, “It was hard knocking on those doors to get my music played. One radio programmer in L.A., the meanest son of a bitch in the world, threw my CD in the trash right in my face.”
Her first album, Chacalosa (slang for “party girl”), was released in 1995. She signed with Sony Music and released her major label debut studio album ‘Si Quieres Verme Llorar’ followed by her second studio album ‘Reyna de Reynas’, both in 1999. The albums failed to become commercially successful, much to the frustration of Rivera.
Her third studio album, ‘Que Me Entierren Con la Banda’, was released in March 2000 under Fonovisa Records. It had songs like ‘Las Malandrinas’ which was a tribute to her hardworking female fans. The album was a big success, and finally, Rivera earned her place in the industry. Her fourth studio album, ‘Dejate Amar’ and the fifth studio album, ‘Se las Voy a Dar a Otro’ were released in the same year (2001); both the albums were successful. She became the first American born artist to be nominated for the award in 2003. Her 2003 release Homenaje a Las Grandes (in English “Homage to the Great Ones”) was a tribute album to female Mexican singers.
In 2004, Rivera released her first compilation disc titled Simplemente… La Mejor, which became her first record to detonate a chart in the United States. Her studio album, ‘Parrandera, Rebelde y Atrevida,’ which was released in 2005, reached the top 10 on Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. The album was certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It contained the popular single ‘De Contrabando’ which peaked at number one on Billboard’s US Regional Mexican Songs.
In 2007, Rivera released Mi Vida Loca, which debuted at number 1 on the Regional Mexican Albums chart and number 2 on the Top Latin Albums chart in the United States, the album garnered an award for Regional Mexican Album of the Year at the 2008 Latin Billboard Music Awards. Her greatest success came a year later in 2008 when she released her tenth studio album ‘Jenni’. The album earned her a handful of awards and became one of her biggest commercial successes too. It earned her a second Lo Nuestro Award for Banda Artist of the Year.
Her studio album ‘La Gran Señora’ was released in 2009 and it peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart in the United States. It was nominated for the Best Ranchero Album at the Latin Grammy awards.
In 2010, Rivera announced she would be going on tour to promote her album latest album La Gran Señora. At the end of the tour, she released La Gran Señora En Vivo, a live album that consisted of hits in banda and mariachi, it debuted at No. 8 on the Top Latin Albums chart in the United States. She recorded the album and became the first artist to sell out two back-to-back nights at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, on August 6-7, 2010. Rivera also became the first Latin artist to sell out the Nokia Theatre on July 9, 2009. The tour proved to be a success, La Gran Señora and La Gran Señora En Vivo both garnerd Latin Grammy nominations in the Regional Mexican category and went platinum in Mexico and the United States.
Rivera has appeared in several television awards shows as well and has hosted TV shows like ‘Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis & Raq-C’, ‘El Show de Jenni Rivera’ and ‘I Love Jenni’. She made her film debut in the drama film ‘Filly Brown’ which was directed by Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos. Rivera portrayed the character of ‘Maria Tenorio’ in the film which won the Best Feature Film award at the 2013 Noor Iranian Film Festival.
On August 23, 2011, Rivera renewed her contract with Universal Music Latin Entertainment/Fonovisa Records. To celebrate this event, she performed and sold out at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, becoming the first female Regional Mexican singer to do so. In December 2012, Rivera was only the third singer to place three albums on the entire top three on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart with her albums No.1 La Misma Gran Señora, No. 2 Joyas Prestadas: Pop, and No. 3 Joyas Prestadas: Banda. She joins two other leading singers, who also achieved the feat only in death Celia Cruz and Selena Quintanilla. In life and death, several media outlets including CNN, Billboard, Fox News, and The New York Times have labeled Rivera as the most important female figure and top-selling female artist in the regional Mexican music genre.
On April 19, 2013, her debut film Filly Brown was released. Rivera played a drug-addicted mother in prison. The film ‘Filly Brown’ also earned a nomination at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for the Grand Jury Prize. It was released after the death of Rivera and during the 2013 American Latino Media Arts Awards, a moment of silence was observed in her memory.
By early 2013 Rivera had sold some 20 million albums worldwide. On December 11, 2012, two days after her death, Fonovisa Records released La Misma Gran Señora, the album debuted at No.1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, No.1 on Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart and No.1 on Mexico’s Top 100 chart. Since its release, it has been awarded one Billboard Music Award, three Latin Billboard Music Awards, and two Mexican Billboard Music Awards. At the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, it was awarded the Top Latin Album accolade.
Rivera not only advocated for hard working females in the society through her music but also campaigned for women’s rights. She was named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 2010 and the Los Angeles City Council officially declared August 6 as ‘Jenni Rivera Day’.
On July 1, 2014, Rivera’s album 1969 – Siempre, En Vivo Desde Monterrey, Parte 2 went on sale and sold over 10,000 in the week ending July 6, according to Nielsen Soundscan. Since the album’s release, Rivera has tied with Selena Quintanilla for most no. 1s by a female on the Regional Mexican Albums chart. Billboard magazine named Rivera the highest-ranked woman on the year-end Top Latin Artists chart of 2014, ranking at No. 5. The next-highest female artist is Shakira, at No. 32.
Awards and Honor
Jenni Rivera sold more than 15 million albums and received numerous nominations for Latin Grammy Awards.
At the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards Jenni Rivera was awarded: Top Latin Albums Female Artist of the Year and Regional Mexican Artist of the Year.
Death and Legacy
Jenni Rivera died in an air accident in the early hours of December 9, 2012, when the business jet she was traveling in crashed near Monterrey, Mexico. She was in the city to perform at Monterrey Arena the previous evening. Along with four other passengers and two crew members, she left in a 43-year-old Learjet 25. The private jet lost all communications with the air traffic controllers and later was found crashed. Rivera was buried on December 31, 2012, at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach, California. Her father told Telemundo that legal issues had caused this delay. Her death made international headlines for weeks.
Her album ’Jenni’ was the most significant work in her career. It earned her fame, commercial success, as well as critical acclaim. The album reached the number one spot on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart in the United States and reached number 27 on the Top 100 chart in Mexico. The album earned Rivera another Banda Artist of the Year award at the Lo Nuestro Awards, making her the first female singer to win the award twice; the record still remains to be broken.
The investigation by the Mexican authorities, assisted by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, was closed in December 2014, without being able to determine the cause of the accident. The aircraft had completely disintegrated after hitting the ground in a nosedive at extremely high speed, and both flight recorders were destroyed in the impact. The probable cause was stated as “loss of control of the aircraft for undetermined reasons.”
On July 2, 2013, Unbreakable/Inquebrantable, Rivera’s official autobiography arrived. Rivera had been working on it for years, and after her death, her family put it together and turned it into a full book that became an instant New York Times bestseller. The total sales from Jenni Rivera’s autobiography’s different editions including (English and Spanish) made it the highest selling book in the United States the week of its release, Univision reported. Rivera’s family has released two parts of her last concert in Monterrey, titled 1969 – Siempre, En Vivo Desde Monterrey, Parte 1 and 1969 – Siempre, En Vivo Desde Monterrey, Parte 2, both albums have been commercially successful, in the United States and Mexico. Both albums peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, No. 1 on the Regional Mexican Albums chart, and No. 2 on Mexico’s Top 100 chart. Rivera was ranked in at number 1 on Billboard’s “Top 10 Regional Mexican Musicians 2009-2014” list.
In November 2018, Jenni Rivera Enterprises signed a music distribution deal with Sony Music Entertainment (through its Sony Music Latin and The Orchard labels).