When Chiquis Rivera released the single “Paloma Blanca” (White Dove) back in early 2014, reaction on social media was swift, both pro and con. On the one side were those who thought she was merely capitalizing on the name of her famous — and tragically deceased — mother, Jenni Rivera. On the other were the steadfast supporters, who didn’t balk at the less-than-polished sound and the fact that Rivera had never sang on stage before.
Never mind. On June 2 Rivera unveiled her first album, Ahora (Now), an eclectic collection of new banda sounds and pop in English and Spanish, out on her own label, Sweet Sounds (with Sony distribution). Rivera spoke with Billboard about her decision to record, preparing for her first live show July 2 and how she deals with negative comments.
Is this a big experiment, or is this the beginning of a musical career?
It’s something I always wanted to do, but hadn’t been able to for many reasons. After December [9, the date of Jenni Rivera’s death], I thought it was over. My mom was going to manage my career and she was no longer there. But when I spoke with my manager, I decided to go forward; I didn’t want to have any regrets. I do see it as a career, but also, as a way to get to my bigger goal, which is television. I’ll know better after my first performance.
You’ve never performed live?
I haven’t. I’ve performed in award shows on television but not on a stage as an artist. My first time will be July 2, at the “Jenni Vive” concert in Long Beach.
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Is that stressing you out?
I’ve been so busy in the book tour that it’s been hard to focus. But […] We have a plan. I’m nervous, but I think I can do it. I think I’m going to be ok. It’s about preparing vocally, physically, all the ‘allys.’”
When you first recorded, there were very supportive, positive comments, and very negative comments. Did this make you rethink your recording plans?
I think it was 50-50 at that time. They were supporting me because I was Jenni’s daughter and there were other people saying ‘Oh no, why is she singing, she just wants to take advantage.’ And now I feel with time, because I’ve persevered, I won’t let those things affect me. On the contrary, they motivate me. Obviously, there are different ways to say things, so they don’t sound so harsh, but if you really think about it, it can help me. I’m going to prepare better. Obviously, I’ve thought about doing or not doing this many times. I felt it was harder for me because of the comparisons I always get with my mom. But I didn’t fail. I won’t give them that pleasure.
How do you deal with the nastiness?
It all depends how you wake up in the morning. I’ll say, ‘today is a good day and I’m not going to let anything affect that.’ If I don’t say that in the morning, my day is completely different. I’m a very spiritual woman. I believe in God. I have a lot of faith. And I really believe in the law of attractions. Sometimes I laugh. I have to understand that these people are obviously not happy in their lives. So I think maybe they’re the problem. How can they hide behind the computer and say all kinds of mean things? I focus on God and on the people who are supportive. It’s a mistake we all make: We get 10 great comments and we only focus on the one nasty one. And I won’t give them that pleasure.
One of the tracks you recorded is “Amor Eterno” (Endless Love), a standard written by Juan Gabriel after his mother’s death. I gather you recorded this for your mom as well?
It’s an homage to my mother, and I dedicate it to her with all my heart. I always loved that song, and obviously, after December 9, I saw it in a different way. Where the original lyrics mention Acapulco, I mention December 9. She never recorded the track, but she did sing it.
The album has a bit of banda, pop, even English. Why is it so eclectic?
I feel I live the best of both worlds. I’m very proud to be Mexican American and I love all kinds of music. I wanted to give fans a little piece of my heart, and also, really find myself in a way. Out of the 14 songs, I co-wrote 12 and I’m very proud of that.
There are many genres in this album. Which one is your primary musical identity?
I would have to say banda. I really like this new single, “Completamente.” I feel like people are really responding well to it. The album definitely is very versatile, and I thank God I have my own label, and that I was able to do what I wanted, take my time and turn in something high quality to my fans. I invested a lot in this. I invested in good engineers, producers. I wanted it to be quality.
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You mentioned your first love is TV. What are your plans there? There had been talk of you joining The View…
The View is still on my vision board. I want to do a show like that, a panel show. I love TV. I want to be a motivational speaker. Have my own talk show. For now I think I’m going to do some reality. But I put my foot in the door with acting. I have a small part in a movie called Tattooed Love. It’s about women who are hustlers, who are single mothers. I play a character called Lola.
What has your family said about the album? Did your uncle Lupillo hear it already?
I don’t know if my uncle has heard it. I haven’t spoken with him in a few months. When “Paloma blanca” came out he called me and he wanted to make sure that I was ok, but we haven’t spoken much about my career since then. And my grandfather supports me. Although he wishes I would have gone with Cintas Acuario to do my first album!