Latina Singer Jenni Rivera Dies in Plane Crash

Mom of five left a lasting impression with Hispanic audiences

Filed UnderCelebrities
Photograph by Robson Muzel/NBCUniversal, Inc.

Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera, who broke into the male-dominated world of Latin banda music and served as an inspiration to young Latina women and mothers, died in a plane crash early Sunday morning. She was 43.

The Long Beach, Calif.-born daughter of Mexican immigrants had boarded a small plane with six other passengers after a concert in Monterrey, Mexico. About 10 minutes into the flight, air traffic controllers appeared to have lost contact with the airplane, according to the Los Angeles Times.

While there has been no official confirmation of Rivera's death, according to NPR, Mexico's Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said that wreckage found in northern Mexico "points toward" it being the the airplane that carried Rivera and her entourage from Monterrey to Toluca, Mexico.

Rivera, a mother of five and grandmother of two, rose to fame after becoming one of the only female musicians who sang the popular Latin banda music, adding a pop twist to the traditional genre, according to the L.A. Times. But what set her apart was her ability to connect with female fans, which she accomplished by revealing her personal struggles with such issues as teen pregnancy, domestic abuse and divorce.

After giving birth to her first child, she eventually graduated from high school and married the child's father, José Trinidad Marin, according to the New York Daily News. After alleged abuse, she divorced Marin and remarried, also earning her college degree in business administration.

Soon after, she went to work at her father Pedro Rivera's record label, Cintas Acuario, but signed with EMI/Capitol's Latin division in 1995, reported the Daily News. Her first album, Chacalosa, aka "Party Girl," sold 1 million copies.

Her career took off from there.

In addition to having sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, according to E! Online, she also received multiple Latin Grammy nominations and was the first female banda artist to sell out a concert at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, Calif.

Rivera also had a weekly radio program and had branched out into television, starring in I Love Jenni, which was the top original Hispanic celebrity reality series on Latin cable network Mun2, a sister network of Telemundo Media.

She also had a cosmetics and fragrance line and had made her film debut in Filly Brown, shown at this year's Sundance Film Festival, according to the L.A. Times. That's in addition to a new family comedy she was slated to star in for ABC, reports E! Online.

At the end of the day, it was family and large struggles—as well as everyday ones—that brought her fame and fans. She was open about her challenges, which resonated with her audience.

In fact, at a news conference following her Monterrey concert on Saturday night, Rivera addressed questions about her recent split from husband Esteban Loaiza, a Major League Baseball player.

"I can't get caught up in the negative, because that destroys you," she said in Spanish. "The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up."

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