California-born Jenni Rivera was a superstar: She sold millions of records, starred in a reality show, and received multiple Grammy nominations. Rivera died in a plane crash this weekend in Mexico on her way to film an episode of the Mexican version of “The Voice.” Confession: I had never heard of Rivera before her tragic accident this weekend. But since then, I’ve been reading up on her incredible career as a singer, TV star, and entrepreneur. Here are five reasons the 43-year-old singer nicknamed “la Diva de la Banda” was huge — and why she was about to become a household name.
Her very first album, Chacalosa (“party girl”) sold more than a million copies. Over the course of her career, she sold more than 20 million albums. Rivera specialized in regional Mexican musical styles traditionally dominated by men, including the norteño, cumbia and ranchero styles.
Rivera was nominated for Grammy awards in 2003, 2008, and 2010. Her 2008 album Jenni hit #1 on Billboard’s Latin chart, and she also won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Band Album of the Year.
Rivera was also an entrepreneur. She founded companies including Jenni Rivera Fragrance, Jenni Jeans, Divina Realty, and Divina Cosmetics.
Rivera was divorced three times, and had five children and two grandchildren. And she put her turbulent personal life to work for her, writing songs about heartbreak and cheaters, and then starring in a hit reality show on the Spanish-language cable network mun2, “I Love Jenni.” The show’s third season had started production in November, with Rivera serving as an executive producer.
She was poised to become even bigger. Just a few days before she died, ABC announced it was developing “Jenni,” a family sitcom starring Rivera as a single mom. The producer behind “Full House” and other hits was behind the show.