By Pablo Jaime Sainz
There are two versions of Jenni Rivera.
On the one hand there’s the rebel and party girl, the one that gets on stage with a bottle of tequila on hand, the one that attacks men in songs such as Se las voy a dar a otro.
On the other hand there’s the single mother who was able to raise her five children by herself, the businesswoman who has made her business grow, the social activist who is trying to implement positive changes in her community.
Although different, they’re two versions of a woman who, in good times and bad times, always, she said, tries to be a strong woman.
“I’m strong, I have no choice,” said the singer known as La Diva de la Banda. “Among my options there’s no room for failure.”
Both versions are two sides of the same woman, she warns, although sometimes might seem to be two opposite women.
“She’s the same Jenni Rivera: An average woman who has been able to keep her strength in difficult moments,” she said. “She’s the Jenni Rivera who lives through difficult experiences but who overcomes them.”
Some of the difficult experiences she’s talking about are the cases of sexual abuse that her family faced when her ex-husband raped his own daughter and Rivera’s younger sister when both, daughter and sister, were barely little girls.
After being on the run for several years, in 2007 the man was found guilty of eight charges of sexual abuse and was sentenced to 31 years to life in a federal prison.
The verdict closes a painful chapter in Rivera’s life.
“God put these challenges but he has helped us to overcome them,” she said from her offices in Corona. “My daughter, my sister, and I have always been very close. I have always told them to not have a victim mentality. We have to look at the positive side of things, even if those things are negative.”
The singer of Las chacalosas announced the creation of Fundación de Amor Jenni Rivera, whose mission will be to help people who have suffered physical and sexual abuse.
Her sister is the vice-president while her daughter is the treasurer of the new organization, which will offer counseling and social services.
Rivera herself lived through domestic violence with her second husband.
“The purpose of this is to help other people that has lived through what I have lived,” Rivera said. “I want to serve as an example for others.”
Although the foundation is barely starting, she and her family are learning how to raise funds, how to find help for abused people, including single mothers like her.
She’s doing this while promoting her recent album, which is called Mi vida loca (Fonovisa, 2007).
Rivera was born in Long Beach more than 30 years ago. She’s part of a musical family which includes her father Pedro and her brothers Lupillo and Juan.
Even though she enjoys great success on radio and among the public, Rivera said that before her musical career is her family’s wellbeing.
“My artistic life moves around my personal life. Before than a singer I was a daughter, I was a mother. Once I make sure that there’s food in the fridge and that my kids are alright, that’s when I go out to sing.”
On stage Rivera is stronger than ever.
“The first item on my agenda is to succeed, overcome the negative things from the past,” she said.
Rivera kicks off the year with a lot of energy performing on January 5 at Pala Casino, in North County.