Thursday, July 18, 2024

Long Beach’s Jenni Rivera to receive posthumous star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

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La Diva de la Banda herself, Jenni Rivera, will receive a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame come June 27.  Fellow Mexican music star Gloria Trevi will speak during the ceremony while Rivera’s five children—Jacqie, Johnny, Jenicka, Michael, and her child-following-mom’s-foosteps Chiquis—will accept the star on her behalf.

The star has quite the appropriate place—at least any place outside of Long Beach. It will sit in front of the Capitol Records building off of Vine Street. And it is more than just a star of Jenni Rivera’s wattage being recognized beyond the lovers of Norteño music. It about regional Mexican music being recognized as an influence that bounces between Mexican and Mexican-American culture.

The sonic importance of Jenni Riviera supersedes country boundaries

While millions of Mexican and Mexican-Americans were in a deep state of mourning when Jenni died in a plane crash in December of 2012, most the non-Latino, English-speaking parts of the world had no idea who Jenni was or why there was such a burst of sadness among many of our neighbors.

But the reality is that Jenni was massively influential. A devout feminist who wittily inverted the machismo that ran toxically throughout the Mexican music industry and culture. A bilingual queen who could turn words and cultures onto and into each other in ways that united more than divided. The only regional Mexican music artist to sell out the then-Staples-now-Crypto Arena. And a woman who sold over 15 million albums that altered the perception of what a Latina could achieve.

Long Beach professor and former journalist Sarah Bennett once beautifully wrote, “In the yet-to-be-written book still swirling in my head about Long Beach’s untold importance in popular music, Jenni Rivera gets her own chapter. So does Sublime, Snoop Dogg, WAR, Suburban Rhythm, The Pyramids, T.S.O.L. and Jenni’s dad Pedro Rivera and his record label that still operates out of a storefront, Cintas Acuario. But with all her contributions to not just norteño music, but also television, bilingual culture and Latina feminism in general, Jenni was going to be the big one.”

While that recording studio is, indeed, still functioning to this day off of Market Street, the loss of Jenni left a deep hole in Long Beach’s rich musical history.

The Long Beach love that lives on for La Diva de la Banda

“She was just a girl from Long Beach. She traveled the world, but to know that her town has honored her is better than any Grammy.”

These were the words of Rosie Rivera, Jenni’s sister, when the City Council unanimously agreed to dedicate a park to the Diva’s memory at Walnut Avenue and 20th Street near Chittick Field. The day it opened in July of 2015, hundreds came out to honor Jenni on what would have been her 46th birthday.

There was a prayer led by Rivera’s daughter Jacqui Rivera. Jenni’s granddaughter, Jaylah, left the pledge of allegiance. Mariachi Los Reyes conducted the singing of the national anthems of America and Mexico. And Jenni’s father, Pedro, passionately sang “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Mexican song that is sung for birthdays.

She was and will always be Playa Larga pura.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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