Skip to content

Jenni Rivera: La Diva de la Banda, A Mother, and Survivor

On this day, Dolores Janney “Jenni” Rivera Saavedra on July 2, 1969, in Los Angeles.

Rivera’s parents, Rosa Saavedra and Pedro Rivera, discovered they were expecting in one of the hardest moment of their lives. They were in the process crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S.


Her parents raised Rivera and her sister and four brothers in a tight-knit, musical household; her brother Lupillo is also a regional Mexican musician. Her family introduced her to traditional Mexican music, including the genres of banda, norteña, and ranchera.


Rivera’s youth wasn’t easy. She got pregnant at 15 by Trino Marin, and her parents booted her out of their house. She married Marin in 1984 and had two more children.

Their union wasn’t blissful; Rivera described their eight years as physically and mentally abusive.

She still managed in this time to complete high school and apply to college.

She attended California State University, Long Beach and obtained a college degree in business administration.

But her volatile marriage led to depression and two suicide attempts.

Eventually, Rivera left her husband, reconciled with her parents.

She began working in real estate before going to work for her father’s record label. Her father was a bartender and businessman who created the record label Cintas Acuario in 1987, which launched the career of Mexican singer and songwriter Chalino Sánchez. There she discovered a new dream, singing!

At the onset of her musical career, she was told many times she would not make it. At that time and still today, the genre known as regional Mexican music was and is dominated by men. In a 2011 interview with Billboard magazine, she stated,

“It was hard knocking on those doors to get my music played. One radio programmer in L.A., the meanest son of a b**** in the world, threw my CD in the trash right in my face.”

Jenni Rivera

Those were the kind of issues Rivera faced as a female trying to crack the regional Mexican genre.

The hopeful artist performed in bars, which is how she met her second husband, Juan López.

Shortly after getting hitched to him in 1997, López was sentenced to six months in prison for being a coyote/ a person who charges people to help them cross the US border.

After his incarceration, the couple had two children. But López’s unfaithfulness caused the couple’s demise in 2003.

While Rivera’s marriage sank, her music soared.

She signed with the label Fonovisa, and this up-and-comer’s first record, “Que Me Entierren con la Banda,” was a hit. The Spanish-singing Rivera soon became known to a growing fan base as “La Diva de la Banda.”

Her recordings often had themes of social issues, infidelity, and relationships.

In the early 2000s, she was often criticized and was refused bookings at venues across California for performing Banda music—a male-dominated music genre. However, her popularity grew after she won the Lo Nuestro Award for Regional Mexican Female Artist of the Year in 2007, which she won nine consecutive times. Her tenth studio album, Jenni (2008) became her first No.1 record on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart in the United States.

However, her time enjoying the spotlight came to a halt when Rivera discovered that her first husband had molested her daughters and sister. He evaded capture for nine years before being sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2006.

Then, her second husband was sentenced to 10 years for dealing drugs, dying in prison in 2009.

Her fame grew even more after marrying former baseball player Esteban Loaiza and starring in several reality-TV series with her family: Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis & Raq-C (2010), I Love Jenni (2011) and Chiquis ‘n Control (2012).

On top of starring in these popular programs, she turned business mogul, launching Jenni Jeans, Divine Music, Divina Realty, Jenni Rivera Fragrance and Divina Cosmetics.

Amidst multiple professional successes, Rivera filed for another divorce.

Regarding the split, Rivera said in a press conference,

“I am a woman like any other, and ugly things happen to me like any other woman. The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up.”

Jenni Rivera


Despite these devastating occurrences, Rivera kept churning out hit albums and earning Latin Grammy and Billboard nominations.

She sold more than 15 million copies of her 12 major-label albums. 


Rivera’s painful past inspired her journey from singing to charity work. In 2010, she was named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She also founded the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation to help women who have been the victims of violence, children with cancer, and immigrants.


In a catastrophic twist of fate, the 43-year-old star died right after that event on December 9, 2012, in a plane crash.

She remains la diva de la banda and she will always remind so many of us to be who we are UNAPOLOGITICALLY!

Please leave a comment below if this story resonated with you or if this history impacted you.


RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, y in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.



Check out our website:

LatinaChikaSpeaks Magazine View All

Entertainment with a Social Justice Twist!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: