Jenni Rivera: Late singer celebrated at memorial

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UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — The life of Jenni Rivera was celebrated Wednesday in song, as passionate fans chanted “Jen-ni! Jen-ni!” at the singer’s memorial service billed as a “celestial graduation” by her family.

Olga Tanon and Rivera’s children were among those performing at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, where thousands of fans gathered to salute the “Diva de la Banda.”

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.

Many fans had bought advance tickets to the service for $1. Hundreds of others converged outside the venue, hoping to gain access.

The service was closed to most media, although a broadcast of the proceedings was made available.

The burial will be private.

Rivera and six other people died Dec. 9 in a northern Mexico plane crash that remained under investigation. Rivera, the mother of five children and grandmother of two, was 43.

Rivera sold more than 15 million copies of her 12 major-label albums. Her soulful singing style and honesty about her tumultuous personal life won her fans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. She was also an actress and reality TV star.

Born in Los Angeles, Rivera launched her career by selling cassette tapes at flea markets. By the end of the 90s, she won a major-label contract and built a loyal following.

Many of her songs deal with themes of dignity in the face of heartbreak, which Rivera spoke of openly with her fans.

She had recently filed for divorce from her third husband, was once detained at a Mexico City airport with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and publicly apologized after her brother assaulted a drunken fan who verbally attacked her in 2011.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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