Music, roses at singer Jenni Rivera's memorial
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — Jenni Rivera's "celestial graduation" was marked by festive music, heartfelt speeches in Spanish and English and passionate chants of "Jen-ni! Jen-ni!"
Rivera's children and famed singers Olga Tanon and Joan Sebastian performed during the nearly 2 ½-hour memorial service Wednesday at the Gibson Amphitheatre, where thousands of fans gathered to salute the "Diva de la Banda" who died in a plane crash Dec. 9.
One fan, Veronika Flores, drove nearly eight hours from her home in Woodland, Calif., near Sacramento, to be united with other fans at the service.
"I just came to say goodbye to a Latina woman, La Gran Senora," she said, invoking the name of one of Rivera's most beloved songs.
Famed Mexican singers Marco Antonio Solis and Ana Gabriel and actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Kate del Castillo were also among the guests at Wednesday's service.
A red casket sat onstage amid a sea of white roses as images of Rivera played on three big screens. Family members embraced and kissed the casket at the conclusion of the service, laying more white roses atop it.
While most of the speeches and songs were delivered in Spanish, Rivera's children spoke in English, often directly to their late mother.
"We're not here to mourn the death," said son Michael, 21. "We're here to celebrate the life and graduation of a singer, an entertainer, a diva, a fighter, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and more than anything, a mother — the best mother."
He then called for 27 seconds of silence for the victims of the massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Rivera's youngest child, 11-year-old Johnny, was heartbreakingly poised as he said, "The person that everyone's talking about is my mom."
"Mama, I've been crying so much these last few days. I miss you so much," said the little boy, wearing a red bow tie like many of his family members. "I hope you're taking care of my dad and I hope he's taking care of you, too."
Rivera's second husband, Juan Lopez, died in 2009. The couple divorced in 2003.
Rivera's brothers and sisters spoke lovingly of the singer, calling her "the queen of queens," ''perfectly imperfect" and an "eternal diva." Her father said Rivera's "happiness, smile and care for the public will never be forgotten." He then performed a song he wrote about his daughter, a woman who rose from humble roots to become "la Diva de la Banda."
One of Rivera's brothers said his sister "made it OK for women to be who they are. Jenni also made it OK to be from nothing with the hopes of being something."
The family asked that Latin radio stations play Rivera's song "La Gran Senora" at noon Thursday in her honor.
The service was closed to most media, although a broadcast of the proceedings was made available.
The burial will be private.
Rivera's last album before her death, "La Misma Gran Senora," topped the Latin albums chart this week, selling 27,000 copies — the best sales week for any Latin album this year. Rivera also holds three spots on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Rivera and six other people died Dec. 9 in a northern Mexico plane crash that remains under investigation. Rivera, a mother of five children and grandmother of two, was 43.
Rivera sold more than 15 million copies of her 12 major-label albums. Her soulful singing style and honesty about her tumultuous personal life won her fans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. She was also an actress and reality TV star.
Born in Los Angeles, Rivera launched her career by selling cassette tapes at flea markets. By the end of the 90s, she won a major-label contract and built a loyal following.
Many of her songs deal with themes of dignity in the face of heartbreak, which Rivera spoke of openly with her fans.
She had recently filed for divorce from her third husband, was once detained at a Mexico City airport with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and publicly apologized after her brother assaulted a drunken fan who verbally attacked her in 2011.
"She was a fighter, a woman who can push boundaries," said Flores. "That's why I liked her, because I'm just like her."
Who Am I?
Check out how Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and more stars of "Fast & Furious 6" looked when they were in high school.Watch Video »
From Kim Kardashian to Jessica Alba, see the worst celeb sunburns.Watch Video »
Khloe Kardashian showed off her svelte figure, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
Kourtney Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens and Tara Reid all get an F on this week's Fashion Offenders hosted by Wonderwall's Kirby Kristen.Watch Video »
From the Olsens to the Mowrys, see some of Hollywood's most famous twins.Watch Video »
Katy Perry incites a Twitter feud with a 17-year-old rapper. Get the dirty details on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
- Chief BeefKaty Perry incites a Twitter feud with a 17-year-old rapper. Get the dirty details on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
- Fashion BluesKourtney Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens and Tara Reid all get an F on this week's Fashion Offenders hosted by Wonderwall's Kirby Kristen.Watch Video »
- Fights & FeudsGet the scoop on some of the most recent Hollywood feuds on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Svelte BodKhloe Kardashian showed off her svelte figure, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Last TripGet the scoop on Kim’s final pre-baby Parisian getaway on Replay hosted by Wonderwall's Kirby Kristen.Watch Video »
- Magic LoveThe stars of "Now You See Me" chat learning magic tricks and experiencing the real deal.Watch Video »
- Workout ObsessedGwyneth Paltrow works out for two hours a day, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Twitter AttackFind out who went after Kendall Jenner on social media on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- 'Fast' TalkWatch as the cast of "Fast & furious 6" talk about getting injuries while filming, getting jacked and a whole lot more.Watch Video »
- Feeling SwollenKim Kardashian says her pregnancy lips are out of control, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Party AnimalsCheck out some of Hollywood's biggest party animals.Watch Video »
- Carrie's ChangesSee how this country cutie has changed her looks over the years.Watch Video »
- Moving OutRobert Pattinson has moved out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Who Am I?Check out how Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and more stars of "Fast & Furious 6" looked when they were in high school.Watch Video »
- LovebirdsFind out what Jessica Alba and Cash Warren tweeted to each other on their fifth wedding anniversary on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Worst LooksCheck out some of Rihanna's worst wardrobe choices on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- What's Sexy?Heidi Klum hangs with two comedy legends and shares what she finds most sexy in a man on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Sexy SecretsVictoria's Secret model Adriana Lima talks about the What's Sexy list, her model friends and more with Wonderwall.Watch Video »
- American TravelsGet the Prince's travel details on Replay hosted by Wonderwall's Kirby Kristen.Watch Video »
- Birthday GirlTori Spelling turns 40, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Fashion OffendersFlorence Welch, Zoe Saldana, and Ali Larter all get an F on this week's Fashion OffendersWatch Video »
From Videos of Wonderwall
From MSN Entertainment
From Crowd Ignite