As Billboard continues to honor singer Jenni Rivera, who tragically died in a plane crash on Sunday (December 9), we bring you five exclusive videos of Rivera's extensive appearance on a panel at the April 2012 Billboard Latin Music Conference, wherein the Mexican-American star opened up about her music, her reality show, her family, her role in the film "Filly Brown," her roots, and much more.
Please Note: The videos are partially in Spanish, so we have provided bullet points in English about what Rivera is discussing in each clip.
Video Pt. 1 - Rivera discusses: • The importance of her family and day in her life: "First I'm a mother, cook for them, drop them off at school, then run errands, answer emails and questions for jobs. . . I love to work, which is why I get involved with other things." • She talks about the idea behind her "I Love Jenni" reality show on Mun2 and her thoughts on how it exposes her but she already considers herself "transparent."
Jenni Rivera- singer, songwriter, performer, producer, reality TV star, radio show host, television producer, fashion designer, and compulsive tweeter - may be the "most successful female recording artist of our time," as Billboard's Leila Cobo introduced her to standing-room only crowd at Billboard's Latin Music Conference in Miami on April 24, 2012.
But there is one role that she said was most important to her. "I'm a mother above all things," said Rivera, whose family of five children is on "I Love Jenni," the Mun2 show she launched in 2009.
Other tasks included hours of emailing each morning, the radio show, tweeting to her fans, designing jeans for women with big hips, taping for the TV show and writing her autobiography.
"That would be a Wednesday, let's say. Sometimes I get home at 2 a.m. and start the day again," Rivera said in a Q&A conversation with Cobo and Flavio Morales, senior vice president of programming at Mun2.
Video Pt. 2 - Rivera discusses: • How media seems to pick on her to get a reaction: "I decided this is part of the industry and I do the impossible to think positive." • Using her reality show, radio show and social media (specifically Twitter) to clarify rumors or jokes. She prefers Twitter to press releases because only she is behind her words. • How she started recording music at 23 years old. Her friends took her out after heartbreak, dared her to get on stage of a club to sing. • How she went from a real estate agent to a singer, out of the blue she heard "Reina de Reina" song on the radio. • How music started out as a hobby, then how as a single mother she became a recording artist. "I wasn't fabricated, I was a real woman." • When she realized her life caused interest, she thought in bigger terms: TV, clothing line, fragrance, etc.
Rivera came a long way since she was a real estate agent in suburban Los Angeles, a single mother trying to make it out on her own in business and figuring out if she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher or a nurse. Being a diva was not in her plans. She recorded in her father's studio as a hobby, but one day, she was meeting a couple to show them a house and, waiting in her car, she heard herself on the radio.
"It was simply my hobby to record music," Rivera said. "Nobody believed a single mother could be a recording artist. At that time, they were picking people off the street because of their looks and making them into a package."
Since that time, she has taken her successes and her missteps and turned them into the story of a role model for other Latina artists. Or, maybe, businesswomen.
"I keep feeling more like a businesswoman than an artist," she said. "The music is a therapy, an emotional release of everything I lived."
Video Pt. 3 - Rivera discusses: • How she feels more like a business woman than an artist. • Her role models and influences. • How her parents were strict, didn't let her speak English or listen to music in English, to strengthen her roots. She's proud to be Mexican-American artist and for her upbringing. • The importance of the Latino vote.
Everything she lived could be seen on TV in the Mun2 show, "I Love Jenni." Some of the impetus for the show was because there was so much tabloid talk about her anyway, she decided she would set the record straight on her terms.
"When I saw that my life caused interest, I thought, 'I am going to use my name in my way,'" she added. "My name is used in many ways in many arenas and I said, 'I am going to produce TV programs and design a clothes line, have a fragrance and a radio program."
Morales asked her if there were times she regretted that decision.
"It could make you upset but if I allow that to overwhelm me, I'm going to be frustrated and bitter," she said. "What matters is that I know this is part of the business and I will do everything possible to turn the negative into something positive."
The radio show and her Twitter account also help her do that. "Having direct contact on my radio program, I can clarify things and people can interview me," said Rivera, who added that she loves Twitter for the same reason.
"In Twitter, every time I just write something, everybody responds," she said. "I really like talking to people on Twitter because it is contact with my public. A 'happy birthday,' saying 'congratulations' is important to them. They feel in touch. They feel they have me close by."
Still, the Mexican artists that came before her - way before her - that ultimately influenced her musically, Rivera said, naming Rocio Ducal, Isabel Pantoja and Lupita D'Alessio. In 1994 or 1995, she heard a young singer named Selena and admired her as a woman who did things her own way.
Video Pt. 4 - Rivera discusses: • How she always has the final say on all the work she does: "It's the manner to take care of what's mine. I'm in control, like Janet Jackson". • "I'm happy what I've accomplished, but it's my job to inspire more." • Getting a call from Edward James Olmos about acting in the film, "Filly Brown." • Raising kids well as being a single mom. • How people say the world may be ending in 2012, but to her this can mean a chapter closing but another beginning.
But like Selena, Rivera, who was born in the U.S., did things her way and stayed true to her Mexican-American roots.
"I had the good fortune that my parents were very strict. They didn't let me speak English at home or listen to English music at home. They instilled in me even more my roots, my culture.
"I'm super happy with what I've accomplished," she said. "I want to see my products grow. I can do a lot more when it comes to music, but I think it is my responsibility to inspire the world more, my fans more -- not only through music, but maybe through my book, the story of my life."
Video Pt. 5 - Rivera discusses: • Her plans to release an autobiography. • Who she's listening to: Bob Marley, Shania Twain, Gerardo Ortiz: "A Little Bit of Everything." • Her Mariachi album and her thoughts on what album to make next. • Questions from the audience: what she's learned from her kids, why she wrote the songs she did, and more.