The Fighter Within Us, La Luchadora Entre Nosotros: Remembering Jenni
Jenni Rivera preforming, photo courtesy The Press-Enterprise, pe.com.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS — Sunday, December 9, 2012, graduation day. Lourdes “Lulu” Ibarra Lopez, 22, walked in glittering stilettos, obtaining her Business Degree. After receiving multicolored roses and posing for pictures, she left for lunch at a nearby Chinese Buffet. A few hours passed; with family gone, Lulu sat waiting as two friends finished desert. Checking Facebook, her jaw suddenly dropped. The 1969 Learjet 25 carrying Mexican-American singer/songwriter, producer, actress and entrepreneur, Dolores Janney Rivera Saavedra (known as Jenni Rivera), along with six others had crashed, with no presumed survivors.
During the days leading to when Rivera’s passing is officially confirmed, Lulu oversaw continuous coverage of the accident in disbelief. “I watch her videos, I listen to her music, I imagine her singing”, she later said.
A first generation college student from a small town near Dallas, Lulu identifies with “La Gran Señora” (the Grand Lady), holding primary credits in her individual right. Amplified by the traditional sounds of trumpets, violins, and accordions—christened “La Primera Dama Del Corrido” (the First Dame of Corrido) early in her career, Rivera’s affirming and reassuring lyrics give her audience a voice towards their oppressed barrio neighborhood, powerfully breaking stereotypes from a overtly machismo (male dominated) written world.
During an episode of her Mun2 reality show, “I Love Jenni“, Rivera preps for the 2012 Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami. “I’m always nominated against a bunch of guys,” she said. “They didn’t even make a Female Regional Artist of the Year because there are none”. This lack of representation led Rivera to utilize her stage as an artistically therapeutic platform creating awareness for gender and cultural equalization, as Spanish subtitles further distinguish her transitional fluidity spanning both Mexican and American markets.
Whether in a Swarovski crystal studded floor length gown or ripped jeans, wiping tears from her eyes and taking sips from a wine glass during performances, in her experienced prime, Rivera, who overcame teenage pregnancy and domestic violence to become “La Diva de La Banda” (the Diva of the Band), singing likes of Basta Ya (Enough), Los Ovarios (the Ovaries), la Reyna es el Rey (the Queen is the King), and Resulta (Result), establishes a foundation and strength needed to shatter the cycle of abuse.
“Listening to Jenni you would understand it’s okay to have heartbreak,” said the aspiring Certified Public Accountant and multiple Business Owner. “She inspires me to move forward, to be something big; to be someone important.” Grieving mixed feelings and missed opportunities to see Rivera in concert, Lulu drove to a local vigil held at Cristo Rey Catholic Church. “I already backed out on her once, I’m not going to do it again,” she remembers thinking. There, peace surrounded the crowd and roses present from la Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe.
Lulu studies for her last final the evening after, reflecting on her future, the vigor in Rivera’s past, and their similar determination. “I’m uncertain, but I know I have to figure out a way to reach my goals,” she says. “Hasta a dónde Dios me permita llegar” (To where God permits me to go).
According to a public statement made by Rivera’s family, Jenni received high honors during her own “Celestial Graduation” Memorial Service led by her brother, Minister Pedro Rivera Jr., held inside the Los Angeles Gibson Amphitheatre, December 19, 2012, broadcast live on Univision. At the request of Rivera’s children, flower donations will be made to the Jenni Rivera Love foundation (supporting single mothers and survivors of domestic abuse in the United States) in addition to a single white rose.
True to Diva form, Jenni left strict guidelines for her celebration in Cuando Muere Una Dama (When a Dame Dies). The detailed song notes Rivera’s staying power, her resilient sprit as a woman, mother, and humble persona, concluding with:
“Tomen tequila y cerveza (Drink tequila and beer)
que toquen fuerte las bandas (bands play loud)
suelten por mi mariposas (let go of butterflies for me)
apláudanme con sus palmas (applaud me with palm leaves)
por que así es como celebran (because that’s how you celebrate)
cuando se muere una dama. (when a dame dies.)”
See her perform the song in concert via a fan YouTube video below:
Accomanying Jenni on the LearJet:
Pilots Miguel Pérez and Alejandro Torres,
a passenger listed as Gerardo N.,
Rivera’s lawyer, Mario Macías,
makeup artist, Jacob Yebale,
and publicist, Alberto Rivera.
Rivera is survived by her five children and two grandchildren:
Janney “Chiquis” Marin,
Jaqueline Marin, mother to Jaylah Hope
Michael Marin, father to Luna Amira
and Johnny Angel Lopez.
She was 43-years-old.
A live tribute concert, “Jenni Rivera Lives” is slated for today in Monterrey, and a commemorative album, “1969 – Siempre, En Vivo Desde Monterrey Parte 1” (1969 – Always, Live from Monterrey Part 1) was released earlier this month. Jenni’s autobiography Unbreakable: My Story, My Way printed in both English and Spanish, is out now.
Currently Mun2 is airing an I Love Jenni marathon; and you can watch Jenni make her film debut in Filly Brown, available for instant streaming on Netflix. A biopic with Chiquis set her portray her mother is in the works.
Note: This article was originally seen on The Horn, December 20, 2012, and was edited by Fashionabled on December 9, 2013 to reflect updates.