If I had to choose one Hispanic American who has had the greatest influence in my life, it would be Jenni Rivera. This may come as a huge surprise because most of you know about my Selena Quintanilla obsession. However, I can relate more to Jenni. I cannot compare my life to hers but having gone through similar situations is what sparks that connection. Rivera was a hard working mother, entrepreneur, college graduate and all around badass chingona.
Jenni Rivera didn’t plan on becoming a singer. In fact she started out as a realtor and quickly rose to the top. She knew she had to make her sales in order to provide for her children. Unfortunately a recession hit and the market tanked, leaving Jenni to find another way to provide. As a child her father pressured her to sing in local talent competitions until she declared she wouldn’t sing anymore. At 23, newly single and at a club, she was dared to go onstage and sing. Rivera remembered the thrill of performing onstage and as a tribute to her father, she recorded an album titled “Somos Rivera”. After that time, her father began arranging performances but she encountered problems when it came time to collect her fee. Often she was propositioned for sexual favors in exchange for what was rightfully hers. Once again, she became jaded with the industry and informed her father she was done trying to become a recording artist. Her father accepted on the condition she record one more album. A single from that new album, “La Chacalosa”, was a hit and gained attention from the locals propelling her into new found stardom. Since her early days she has released several successful albums and joined the realm of reality TV. “I Love Jenni” ran for three seasons and featured her children Chiquis Rivera, Jacqie Rivera, Mikey Rivera, Jenicka Lopez, and Johnny Lopez. Posthumously she made her debut as a big-screen actress and as an author. Her autobiography, Unbreakable, became a New York Time’s best selling autobiography in 2013.
I chose to feature Jenni Rivera in this series because of her strength and resilience. There’s no mincing words-she survived some terrible events. Rivera became a mother at a very young age and married her first husband, Jose Trinidad Marin in 1984. Her first husband’s abuse was so severe, she attempted suicide at the age of 19 and a divorce ensued in 1992. Some time later she discovered her 1st husband not only sexually abused her younger sister Rosie Rivera but his own daughters as well. Jenni persevered and found love with her second husband, Juan Lopez. They had two children together but Lopez’s wandering eye caused the demise of the union. They remained amicable friends until Lopez’s death in 2009. Rivera once again moved on and found love with her 3rd husband, former major league baseball player, Esteban Loaiza. Unfortunately, Jenni’s heart would be broken yet again. In September 2012, viscous rumors surrounding Loaiza and Rivera’s daughter Chiquis ended her 3rd marriage. The rumors also destroyed the relationship between Rivera and her eldest daughter and the two would never speak again. On December 9, 2012 Dolores Janney Rivera Saavedra was killed in an airplane crash near Iturbide, Nuevo Leon in Mexico. She left behind her 5 beautiful children and a legacy that will never be forgotten.