Jenni Rivera’s phenomenal career success was not built on a life of privilege but rather one of hardship and struggle. Her 43 years on this planet were marked as indelibly by the highs of her career as they were by the lows of her personal life. Now, the ‘Diva of Banda’ is being mourned, following her death in a plane crash on Sunday (December 9, 2012).

Rivera was born in Long Beach, California, to Mexican parents, Rosa and Pedro. They named her Jenny Dolores Rivera Saavedra. Jenni Rivera had her first child at the age of 15 when she was still a high school student. She went on to have two more children with her husband José Trinidad Marín. She left José when she discovered that he had abused two of their children. He was arrested, she went on to marry again in 1997 and have two more children. She divorced her second husband Juan López in 2003 and he died in 2009.

Despite the personal turmoil and hardship that she suffered, Rivera released her debut, groundbreaking album in 1995. A series of Platinum and gold-selling albums followed, with heart-wrenching ballads focusing on infidelity, relationships and social issues. “In Mexico, she represented a lot of ladies that can't talk about their feelings,” her godfather Jose Garza told CNN. She may have been the first woman to sell out two nights at LA’s Nokia Theatre, she may have been the first female Banda artist to sell out California’s Gibson Amphitheater but Rivera always insisted that it wasn’t her talent alone that ensured her success. “It is very flattering when they tell me I'm a great artist and performer… But I am a businesswoman, I'm primarily business-minded.” 

Watch Jenni Rivera perform: