Jenni Rivera, the larger-than-life singer affectionately known as “la Diva de la Banda,” died in a plane crash Saturday night in Mexico. She was 43 years old.
Authorities have not officially confirmed her death, but Rivera’s relatives in the U.S. told Telemundo that there were no survivors following the crash of the Learjet 25 that went down in rugged territory of Mexico’s northern Nuevo Leon state.
Rivera was born in the U.S. to a musical family, and established herself as a solo star in Mexico with her first album, Chacalosa (slang for “party girl”), which sold more than 1 million copies. Over the course of her career, she sold an estimated 15 million albums, almost all in regional Mexican musical styles like norteno and grupero, which had traditionally been dominated by male artists.
Much of her music focused on heartbreak, relationships and cheating men … and her personal life often matched her lyrics. She was divorced three times, had five children, and parlayed those dramatics — and her brash, no-nonsense style — into a wildly popular reality show, “I Love Jenni,” broadcast on cable network mun2, and a subsequent spin-off series. She had also reportedly just inked a deal to develop a show called “Jenni” with ABC.
Her 2008 album of the same name became the first #1 on Billboard’s new Latin Albums chart, and she recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Band Album of the Year.
Rivera had performed a concert in Monterrey, Mexico on Saturday night, and was reportedly flying to the city of Toluca when the Learjet she was aboard from radar some 10 minutes after takeoff. Wreckage of the jet was discovered in rough terrain by Mexican authorities, and while the singer’s body had yet to be identified, a California driver’s license with her name and picture on it was found in the crash site debris. Also believed to have died in the crash was Rivera’s publicist, her lawyer and makeup artist, and the flight’s crew.
As news of her death began to spread, Rivera’s friends and fellow stars took to Twitter to remember her. Jennifer Lopez wrote “So sad … Praying for Jenni Rivera’s children and family and the passengers families,” and Paulina Rubio added “My friend! Why? There is no consolation. God, please help me.”
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