Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS
Jenni Rivera Essentials: 10 Songs That Embody The Late Banda Music Icon's Rebellious Spirit
Ten years after her untimely passing, Jenni Rivera's legacy endures through her boundary-pushing music. The late singer's daughter, Chiquis, revisited her mom's most iconic songs with GRAMMY.com.
During her lifetime, Jenni Rivera wasn’t just a force in Regional Mexican music — she was one of the genre’s contemporary boundary breakers. From her debut in 1999 to her final bilingual albums in 2011, the Mexican-American icon pushed the male-dominated genre to new places as a female voice, even becoming the best-selling banda singer of all time.
Rivera’s remarkable career was tragically cut short on Dec. 9, 2012,when she died in a plane crash. But even a decade later, her legacy endures, and can also be felt with the women who are emerging in the genre — like her daughter Chiquis, who has followed in her footsteps.
"There's no way that you can sing this type of music, be a woman, and not think of Jenni Rivera," Chiquis tells GRAMMY.com. "The impact that she has makes me proud as another woman in the industry in this genre. And also as her daughter — how I feel proud to say that she was my mom. She broke so many barriers for all women to come. There's never going to be another Jenni, but there are always going to be women who are going to be inspired by her."
Rivera started making waves in the Regional Mexican music genre with her third album, 2000's Que Me Entierren Con La Banda ("Bury Me With the Band"). She solidified her place as banda music's leading lady with the aptly-titled 2005 LP Parrandera, Rebelde y Atrevida (Parrandera, Rebel and Daring), which reflected her rebellious, boundary-pushing spirit. Rivera proudly sang about relationships, sex, and even out-drinking the men at the bar; instead of heartbreak, her songs on breaking up were about resilience and self-love.
"Her music was just raw and very real," Chiquis says. "Everything that she sang, she connected with in some way in her life. What comes from the heart reaches the heart. Even to the end of her career, they criticized her a lot for being a woman in the genre. She never cared. She stood up and said, 'This is who I am and I love myself.' Women feel empowered when they sing to her music, even men [do too]."
Throughout her career, Rivera received four Latin GRAMMY Award nominations. Twelve of her studio albums and posthumous compilations have charted on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart — a rarity for Regional Mexican music artists. She also notched 25 entries on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart, with 10 landing in the top 20, including “Inolvidable” and “Ahora Que Estuviste Lejos.”
Ten years after her passing, GRAMMY.com remembers Jenni Rivera with10 essential songs that capture the spirit of her legacy.
"Las Malandrinas," Que Me Entierren Con la Banda (2000)
Rivera first made noise in the banda genre with her girl power anthem "Las Malandrinas." In the rambunctious track, she sang about women drinking, partying and having a good time — even if some viewed it as wicked behavior.
"It's a song that I wrote in honor of my female fans, women who like to party like myself," Rivera once said about the song. "It's the first song that perhaps many of you heard and got to know the voice of Jenni Rivera."
"De Contrabando," Parrandera, Rebelde y Atrevida (2005)
"De Contrabando" is one of the raciest songs in banda music. In the sensual ballad, Rivera sings about sleeping with a man that's already spoken for. It's also one of the songs that showed off Rivera’s vocal range as it fluttered with romantic sensations.
Chiquis remembers that her mother experienced some pushback about recording the song. "My mom was always a very daring woman," she says. "That's the Rebelde y Atrevida type of Jenni. She said, 'I don't care what anyone thinks. This is what I want to sing.'"
"Inolvidable," Mi Vida Loca (2007)
"Inolvidable" is a song that's become Rivera's signature anthem. In the bustling banda track, she sang about her ex-lovers, saying that she was an unforgettable woman in their lives.
Rivera basked in the satisfaction of leaving that impression. The singer dedicated the song to her daughters, saying they had the "Jenni Effect." Chiquis described the "Jenni Effect" as: "It doesn't matter who comes into your life because they're always going to remember you. My mom had that. She touched people and she left an imprint in their lives and their hearts forever, and that's what that song is. She's always going to be here."
"Ahora Que Estuviste Lejos," Jenni (2008)
In "Ahora Que Estuviste Lejos," Rivera counted the ways her life was so much better with her ex-lover out of the picture. Backed by triumphant banda brass, she celebrated being single while lyrically cutting the guy down to size. Chiquis revealed it was inspired by one of Rivera's real-life breakups.
"She was like, 'Know what, now that I know what it is to be single after being with him for so long, I like it,'" Chiquis recalls. "It reminds me of that moment in her life when she found this different side of herself: liberty."
"Chuper Amigos," Jenni (2008)
In true Jenni Rivera fashion, she was ready to party in her boozy banda anthem "Chuper Amigos." She sang about closing down the bar with tequila and her closest friends.
Rivera embraced the looseness of the song with one of the most playful vocal performances in her catalog. The high-energy track was also a popular song during her live shows. "It's a fun song that you hear and no matter what you want to dance," Chiquis says. "The people would go crazy at her concerts. It just puts you into a good mood."
"Ovarios," Jenni: Super Deluxe (2009)
With "Ovarios," Rivera sang about being a woman in charge of her own career. The title in English translates to "ovaries," which she used as a symbol of female strength, in contrast to men who brag about the male anatomy in songs.
Chiquis revealed Rivera also received pushback from recording the swaggering corrido. "[My mom] said, 'I'm going to do whatever I want to do. This is the type of music I listen to. This is the type of music that inspires me and I want other women to feel empowered,’” she recalls. “I think any woman can relate to it and say, 'Hell yeah! I can do it too.'"
"No Llega El Olvido," La Gran Señora (2009)
Rivera embraced mariachi music with "No Llega El Olvido." This time around, she wanted to drink the heartbreak away with an emotional ballad. Rivera dug deep to wring out every lyric that described the post-breakup pain. The track was originally penned by Mexican singer/songwriter Espinoza Paz.
"It's a song my mom interpreted so well," Chiquis says. "It's an anthem. You want to drink and everyone can relate to that song in one way or another. It's crazy to know that it’s one of my mom's most popular songs with it ever being a single."
"Amaneciste Conmigo (Aka Sentirte En Mi Frio)," La Gran Señora (2009)
Rivera embraced ranchera music in "Amaneciste Conmigo (Aka Sentirte En Mi Frio)." In the soaring ballad, she sang about getting caught up in a forbidden romance. The singer powerfully embodied the emotions behind a romance that was withstanding outside criticism.
The song also doubles as an anthem for her fans in LGBTQIA+ community. "She definitely has a huge LGBTQIA+ following and she was very close to them," Chiquis says. "She would enjoy seeing drag queens perform her songs. She would laugh and say, 'Oh my god! The drag queens study me so well.'
Chiquis adds, “I know she would be happy right now to see how many drag queens there are now working and making money off singing her songs and imitating her. I know those are the types of things that made her very proud."
"Basta Ya," Joyas Prestadas (2011)
"Basta Ya" is a classic in Latin music that was penned by Mexican icon Marco Antonio Solís. The song received a pop version and a banda version as part of Rivera’s dual language double album, Joyas Prestadas. Her voice soared as she embodied the message of finding self-love amidst the heartache of a breakup.
Chiquis was the one who told her mom to record the song. "There was a guy that I really liked and he didn't pay attention to me," she says. "I would always ask her to sing it for me because it helped me get through a lot, so that's a very special song for me."
"Misión Cumplida," Misión Cumplida (2022)
This year, Rivera's voice returned with her new single "Misión Cumplida." In the heartfelt banda ballad, Rivera sang about feeling fulfilled by her fans. The song is a part of a posthumous album Misión Cumplida that was released today by her estate.
"With each new release we’re recognizing how much of an icon Jenni Rivera was and continues to be in the eyes and the hearts of her fans," her daughter Jacqie, said in a statement. "What better way to thank them than to give them music to remember her by and continue to help them carry on her legacy."
EXCLUSIVE: Listen To A Preview Of Jenni Rivera's Never-Before-Heard Song "Quisieran Tener Mi Lugar"
GRAMMY.com has an exclusive preview of the Mexican Regional music icon’s latest unreleased single
It’s been eight years since Mexican regional music lost their great lady, their "Gran Señora."
But Jenni Rivera’s one of a kind voice and rebellious, trailblazing spirt lives on in her latest never-before released track "Quisieran Tener Mi Lugar."
The unforgettable Mexican-American singer, who died in a tragic plane crash in 2012, paved the way for women in Mexican regional music with her command over several genre styles (banda, corrido and mariachi, to name a few) and a powerful, soulful voice that belted out lyrics about heartbreak, love, sex and mafia life. A female artist in a male-dominated genre, Jenni Rivera made room for herself and claimed her throne as banda’s diva, as she was lovingly known, with a spirit that was not afraid to break gender norms.
"Quisieran Tener Mi Lugar" exudes the confidence, determination, drive and outspokenness the world loved about her.
"They keep going with the same old story/ They judge and criticize my life/ I’m the diva and it hurts them/ I say what I want, I don’t care," she sings in Spanish over the brass heavy style of banda music. "They just want to talk to talk/ Because they don’t have any shame/Maybe they want to have my place and live the good life."
GRAMMY.com has an exclusive preview of the song, which will be fully released on what would be Rivera’s 51st birthday, July 2.
The unreleased song was discovered by Rivera’s brother Juan, who was unsure if the songs he had come across were new when he found them, after her death.
"When I found out they were unreleased records I wasn’t sure if it was sheer happiness or sadness," he told GRAMMY.com via email. "Happiness because it was something FRESH, TOTALLY NEW and UNHEARD for her fans. Sad because I’m afraid to find them all and reach that potential end."
"Quisieran Tener Mi Lugar" is the third single off a posthumous forthcoming album called Hablando Claro. No release date has been set. Juan and Rivera’s youngest son, Johnny, are aomg some that have worked on the album which will feature previously released singles "Aparentemente Bien," co-written by Erika Ender and Alejandro Lerner and "Enganemoslo" with Mariachi Los Reyes and written by Espinoza Paz.
Juan says working on the album has brought a new way for him to contribute to his sister’s legacy.
"It’s been the greatest honor and BLESSING. At times, difficult because as a brother i would have never imagined that I would have to work on her music in this manner," he said. "I had the honor of working with her on live performances and to see that PURE LOVE for her from her fans. Now, I can say I’m a part of her musical history via these new songs."
The family has been holding news of the album since 2017, waiting for the right moment to release it.
Rivera’s son, Johnny, has been looking forward to the album since then. For him, it’s been an honor to work on his mother’s music. He thoughtfully came up with the album’s title so that it could align with other albums in her catalog.
"I wanted to make sure it’d fit with the rest of my mom’s studio albums and so I chose Hablando Claro because she recorded that song on the album for my grandmother. She has the theme across many of her albums of honoring my grandmother with tracks like 'La Gran Señora,' 'Resulta,' 'Homenaje A Mi Madre' and 'Déjame Vivir.'" He said. "I feel this is her speaking her truth through her music."
Johnny reveals fans can expect his mother’s "most bold, broken-down and personal tracks" on the new album.
"She left behind some great music and I think she always had the thought in her that she wanted to leave music behind for when she was no longer here physically," he shares. She was always thinking about the future."
He adds that he hopes her fans, new and old, become touched by her emotion and resonate with every single one she leaves on the album—whether they laugh, cry, or celebrate with her.
"She knew her purpose in life was to help others through her music.,” he said. “That intention is still the main goal even almost eight years after she’s been physically gone."
The album’s release will be a bittersweet feeling for Johnny too.
"It makes it more real that she’s no longer physically here. This is her final album of original Spanish material," he said. "In a lot of ways you wanna hold onto it forever but I know this is going to hold such an important place in her legacy."
Hear a snippet of the song above.
Remember When? Jenni Rivera Owned Mariachi With 'La Gran Señora'
La Diva de la Banda launched with ranchera, controversially conquered banda and 'La Gran Señora' showcased her vivacious mariachi spirit
As the fifth anniversary of Jenni Rivera's death approaches, her indomitable Southland Latina spirit lives on. Both commercially and with her unique human touch, La Diva de la Banda's star continues to rise and her smile continues to shine worldwide as it does from the murals of Jenni Rivera Memorial Park in her native Long Beach, Calif.
Having grown up in her father's local record store, Rivera showed a unique flair and expertise in regional styles of Latin music that thrill California Southland audiences, workplaces, parties, and quinceañeras. Bilingual, she imbued hits in English and traditional Latina classics with her own touch, offending purists and converting fans who feel connected with her to this day. Her artistic progress evolved from ranchera through banda as a woman in a man's genre, and proved itself with mariachi with the 2009 release of La Gran Señora.
A consistently wonderful performer, many have raised a glass of her Jenni Rivera La Gran Señora Reposado Tequila in her memory. La Gran Señora was nominated for a 2010 Latin GRAMMY for Best Ranchero Album and the following year La Gran Señora En Vivo was nominated in the Best Banda Album category.
"In order to record mariachi, people need to believe it," Rivera told Billboard. "And how will they believe it if you haven't lived it? So I needed to live it, I guess, first, and then express it throughout the recording."
In 2013 the GRAMMY Museum launched an exhibit dedicated to the the life and career of Rivera. Today, her image, television and film work, and love of music are celebrated and augmented by the ongoing charity work of the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation.
Photo: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com
Jenni Rivera, La Gran Señora To Open At The GRAMMY Museum
New exhibit celebrating the life of the late Latin GRAMMY nominee to open May 12
The GRAMMY Museum, in cooperation with the family of the late Jenni Rivera, will debut a new exhibition, Jenni Rivera, La Gran Señora, on May 12. Housed on the Museum's third floor, the exhibit will focus on Rivera as the "Diva of Banda" — a musical powerhouse due to her work within the banda and norteña genres. The exhibit will also illustrate how Rivera used her music and celebrity to help abolish female stereotypes in Mexican music.
"Jenni Rivera was, without a doubt, the female leader of the regional Mexican genre and a true musical superstar," said GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli. "We're honored to celebrate her not only as a talented musician with Southern Californian roots, but also a successful entrepreneur and respected philanthropist."
Bringing together a collection of diverse artifacts, rare photographs and more, the exhibit will feature items from the private collection of the Rivera family. On display, visitors will see a broad array of items, including stage costumes worn by Rivera, including the famous tan and lace dress worn at the Teatro de la Ciudad de Mexico in 2012; Rivera's personal Bible, license and credit cards; rare photographs of Rivera on and off stage; handwritten notes and award trophies; ticket stubs, concert posters, tour books, and fan memorabilia; and video footage from live performances and television appearances.
"It's a great honor for me and my siblings Jacqie, Michael, Jenicka, and Johnny to be able to share such sacred items of our mother with her fans, the ones that made her," said Janney "Chiquis" Marin, Rivera's daughter. "We feel it's the least we can do, we owe the fans so much. We also thank the GRAMMY Museum for honoring the mother, woman, entrepreneur, and artist."
Rivera died Dec. 9, 2012, at age 43 following a plane crash in Mexico. Over the course of her career she earned four Latin GRAMMY nominations, including Best Banda Album in 2011 for La Gran Señora En Vivo.
Tori Amos, Colbie Caillat, Demi Lovato, Sugarland, And More Join MusiCares' "Be A Part Of The Heart"
New artist participants take part in photo mosaic fundraising campaign
MusiCares announced today that Tori Amos, Colbie Caillat, the Eli Young Band, Melanie Fiona, Demi Lovato, Owl City, Parachute, Jenni Rivera, Paulina Rubio, Patrick Stump, and Sugarland are the latest group of artists to join the "Be A Part Of The Heart" fundraising campaign, which invites the public to come together to create an online mosaic comprised of photo tiles. Artists such as Bon Jovi, Black Cards, Taio Cruz, Melissa Etheridge, Selena Gomez, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, and Gloria Trevi uploaded their photos at the launch of the campaign in February 2011.
"Be A Part Of The Heart" encourages fans, recording artists and corporate and media partners to come together in a digital photo mosaic to raise awareness and generate resources to help MusiCares continue to provide a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. The initiative also offers a chance to win a trip for two to the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 12, 2012.
"Not only is this a chance for fans to join their favorite artists online in a shared effort to raise funds for MusiCares and help members of our music family," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy, MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation, "it's also a way for people to join an online community and share their stories about music and its impact on their lives."
In addition, MusiCares has launched a separate contest in conjunction with its annual MusiCares Person of the Year tribute that will honor Paul McCartney on Feb. 10, which offers music bloggers — professional or amateur — a chance to earn a coveted spot on the red carpet as well as a credential to cover the exclusive concert portion of the event. For complete details on the blogger contest, click here.
"Be A Part Of The Heart" participants can visit www.beapartoftheheart.com and make a contribution in any amount beginning with $1 to receive an online tile, where they can upload a photo and include their stories and links to websites and social media platforms. There is no limit to the donation amount and the tiles that go with it. Tiles can be created in honor of loved ones, to commemorate important milestones or holidays, and to engage other members of the public. There is also a place to include text about key musical influences.
For more information, visit www.beapartoftheheart.com.