Thousand of fans gather outside of Gibson Amphitheater in Universal CityWalk with white roses, to give said their last good-bye to “Diva de las Bandas” Jenni Rivera. Among the guests were famed Mexican singers Marco Antonio Solis, Ana Gabriel and Joan Sebastian. A red casket sat onstage amid a sea of white roses, as images of Rivera played on a big screen.
Family members called Wednesday’s ceremony a “graduation to heaven,” saying the singer’s powerful spirit would live on and urging fans to keep her memory alive.
“I am sure that my sister is singing now,” said Juan Manuel Rivera, one of her brothers.
“We’re not here to mourn the death,” said son Michael, 21-year-old. “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.”
One of the most heartbreaking movements was when Johnny 11-years-old was heartbreaking 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.”
“Jenni made it OK for women to be who they are,” longtime manager Pete Salgado said, choking back tears and drawing cheers from the crowd. “Jenni also made it OK to be from nothing with the hopes of being something.”
The service was closed to most media, although a broadcast of the proceedings was made available.
She was reportedly on the verge of a crossover with an English-language sitcom inspired by the success of “I Love Jenni,” a Spanish-language reality TV show on Telemundo’s mun2 network. The “Diva de la Banda,” Rivera died just as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style.
The crash still is under investigation. The privately owned Learjet 25 was en route from Monterrey, Mexico, to Toluca, Mexico, outside Mexico City, when it was reported missing about 10 minutes after takeoff. Mexican officials say the plane fell from an altitude of 28,000 feet, reaching speeds of over 600 mph, shattering the plane when it hit.
On Thursday, family members announced that they had identified Rivera’s remains, which were flown back to Long Beach Airport
The remains were then taken to All Souls Mortuary, where crowds gathered to pay tribute to the fallen music star, much as they have at the Lakewood home of Rivera’s mother over the past week.
The family asked that Latin radio stations play Rivera’s song “La Gran Senora” at noon Thursday in her honor.
The burial will be private.