By Meg James
6:24 PM CST, December 9, 2012
Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera, a popular recording artist and reality television star, is feared dead after a small plane crashed early Sunday in northern Mexico.Mexico's Ministry of Transportation and Communications said the Learjet carrying seven people, including Rivera, was found in mountainous terrain in Nuevo Leon, just south of Monterrey. There were no survivors, authorities said.
The plane left Monterrey around 3:30 a.m., following a concert that she had given, according to the Associated Press. The U.S.-registered Learjet 25 was headed to Toluca, near Mexico City.
The 43-year-old Long Beach native, known to fans as "la diva de la banda," was best known for her interpretations of regional Mexican music, norteno and banda. She was one of NBCUniversal's biggest bilingual television stars, with a hugely popular reality show, "I Love Jenni," on cable channel Mun2.
She also had a syndicated weekly radio program and clothing and cosmetics lines -- all designed to appeal to U.S. Latinas. The ABC television network was developing a sitcom starring Rivera, tentatively titled "Jenni," about a strong-willed Latina single mother.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, Rivera has sold 1.2 million albums and 349,000 digital tracks in the United States.
Rivera belonged to one of the most important dynasties in contemporary U.S.-based Mexican music. Her father, Pedro Rivera, launched the independent label Cintas Acuario in 1987; it grew out of a booth at an area swap meet. Her four brothers were also involved in music, and her younger brother Lupillo also is a wildly popular Mexican regional singer.
According to her Telemundo biography, Rivera didn't plan on joining the family's musical dynasty. But after an early marriage ended in divorce, she obtained a college degree in business administration and worked in real estate before going to work for her father's record label.
Her debut, "Chacalosa" (slang for "party girl"), was her introduction to the music scene. She eventually signed with Fonovisa, one of the most prominent labels in regional Mexican music, and began releasing bestselling Latin music CDs.
More than 16,000 people attended a concert that she headlined last year at Staples Center in Los Angeles. She was scheduled to appear next March at L.A.'s Gibson Amphitheatre.
So many fans flocked to a record-signing event in Riverside last year that police reportedly were called to help disperse the massive crowd.
Her tumultuous life included an early marriage and pregnancy, domestic abuse and divorce. She wove some of those themes into her songs and was an advocate for social responsibility. She founded a charitable organization, the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation, offering support to single mothers and victims of domestic abuse in the United States.
Rivera had five children and a grandchild. Celebrity magazines said she was seeking a divorce from her second husband, former Major League Baseball player Esteban Loaiza.