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Jenni Rivera was set for international stardom

December 11, 2012 |  6:12 am

Mexican American banda singer Jenni Rivera was on her way to make strides outside of the Spanish-speaking world that regaled her as "la diva de la banda."

In addition to launching her own line of makeup, perfume and being the star of her own bilingual reality show, Rivera had recently filmed her first English-language feature movie and was on deck to produce -- and star in -- a pilot for an ABC television series loosely based on her life.

The Long Beach-born pop singer also had partnered with NuMe on a line of expensive blow dryers and flat irons. Early next year, she was prepared to launch her own line of denim jeans, open boutique stores and headline at the Gibson Amphitheatre.

PHOTOS: Jenni Rivera believed dead in plane crash

"For Jenni, it was all about the promise that was yet to come," said Flavio Morales, senior vice president of programming and production of NBCUniversal's cable channel, mun2, which shows "I Love Jenni."

Early Sunday, Rivera had just finished giving a concert in Monterrey, Mexico, and was headed to Toluca, near Mexico City, to be a judge on the Mexican version of "The Voice." Mexican transportation authorities said Monday that a plane carrying the singer and her entourage went down about 10 minutes after it took off. Officials combing the crash site found Rivera's California driver's license.

The late singer's career began more than two decades ago, when she was a teenage mother who sold CDs at an area swap meet. Her father, an entrepreneur from Mexico, created a music label that specialized in the Mexican storytelling ballads known as corridos. Jenni liked to boast that she was a businesswoman too, reminding others that she had earned a college degree in business administration. Rivera was hands-on as she steadily built a business empire that she hoped would rival that of Jennifer Lopez or Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan.

An appreciation: Jenni Rivera was a rare voice

"Jenni spoke for a segment of the community that doesn't often get heard -- single mothers who work hard every single day, who care for their husbands and families and others but don't get to complain," Morales said. "She represented an entire community: me, my family, my friends and a whole generation of Mexican Americans who are making up the new America."

Gustavo López, an executive vice president with Universal Music Latin Entertainment, Rivera's music label, said he spoke to the pop star Saturday. Some of his friends in Monterrey were unable to get tickets to her concert, and Rivera secured last-minute passes.

Rivera was Universal's top-selling artist of regional Mexican music, López said. She drew a crowd when she attended Dodgers and Lakers games. An album-signing event in Riverside last year attracted so many fans that police were called to disperse them.

Her music sold millions of copies, including 1.2 million albums in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her biggest seller was her 2005 album, "Parrandera, Rebelde y Atrevida," which has sold more than 200,000 copies. Rivera also sold nearly 350,000 digital tracks.

"What made her so appealing is that she was born in Long Beach, spoke perfect English but focused on Latin music," López said.


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-- Meg James and Yvonne Villarreal