NTSB: singer Rivera dead in Mexican plane crash
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — U.S. authorities confirmed Monday that Jenni Rivera, a U.S.-born singer whose soulful voice and openness about her personal troubles made her a Mexican-American superstar, was killed in a plane crash in northern Mexico.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to help investigate the crash, and the board was told by Mexican authorities that Rivera had died in Sunday's crash.
Rivera's relatives in the U.S. already had few doubts that she was on the Learjet 25 that disintegrated on impact in rugged territory near the town of Iturbide in the Sierra Madre Oriental in Nuevo Leon state.
"I believe my daughter's body is unrecognizable," her father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home.
He said that his son would fly to Monterrey Monday or Tuesday.
Also aboard the plane were Rivera's publicist, Arturo Rivera, her makeup artist, Jacob Yebale, two friends, one named Mario Macias and another who was identified only as Gerardo, and the two pilots, said Mexico's Communications and Transportation Department in a statement.
Alejandro Argudin, of Mexico's civil aviation agency, said Monday it would take at least 10 days to have a preliminary report on what happened to the plane.
"We're in the process of picking up the fragments and we have to find all the parts," Argudin told reporters. "Depending on weather conditions it would take us at least 10 days to have a first report and many more days to have a report by experts."
Messages of condolence poured in to the Rivera family from musicians and celebrities.
Mexican songstress and actress Lucero wrote on her Twitter account: "What terrible news! Rest in peace ... My deepest condolences for her family and friends." Rivera's colleague on the Mexican show "The Voice of Mexico," pop star Paulina Rubio, said on her Twitter account: "My friend! Why? There is no consolation. God, please help me!"
Born in Los Angeles, California, Rivera was at the peak of her career as perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated regional style influenced by the norteno, banda and ranchero styles.
A 43-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of two, the woman known as the "Diva de la Banda" was known for frank talk about her struggles to give a good life to her children despite a series of setbacks.
She was recently divorced from her third husband, former Major League Baseball player Esteban Loaiza, was once detained at a Mexico City airport with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and she publicly apologized after her brother assaulted a drunken fan who verbally attacked her in 2011.
Her openness about her personal troubles endeared her to millions in the U.S. and Mexico.
"I am the same as the public, as my fans," she told The Associated Press in an interview last March.
Rivera sold 15 million records, and recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year for "Joyas Prestadas: Banda." She was nominated for Latin Grammys in 2002, 2008 and 2011.
Though drug trafficking was the theme of some of her songs, she was not considered a singer of "narco corridos," or ballads glorifying drug lords like other group. She was better known for singing about her troubles in love and disdain for men.
Her parents were Mexicans who had migrated to the United States. Two of her five brothers, Lupillo and Juan Rivera, are also well-known singers of grupero music.
She studied business administration and formally debuted on the music scene in 1995 with the release of her album "Chacalosa". Due to its success, she recorded two more independent albums, "We Are Rivera" and "Farewell to Selena," a tribute album to slain singer Selena that helped expand her following.
At the end of the 1990s, Rivera was signed by Sony Music and released two more albums. But widespread success came for her when she joined Fonovisa and released her 2005 album titled "Partier, Rebellious and Daring."
Besides being a singer, she is also a businesswoman and actress, appearing in the indie film Filly Brown, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival.
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