Sonia Montes, 18, from the city of Riverside, is among the many young fans that remember Jenni Rivera as the star of reality TV show “I Love Jenni”, the cable television network on Mun2 in which film crews followed the Regional Mexican artist from press events, concerts and into the intimacy of her own home.
But since the morning of Sunday, December 9, 2012, the only comfort Sonia and Jenni’s millions of other fans have found has been in her music and in the lingering hopes that the nightmare of her disappearance will soon be over.
After a concert in Monterrey, Mexico, which was coincidentally being filmed for an episode of the Mun2 reality television show, Jenni along with her representative Arturo Rivera, her makeup artist Jacob Llenares, her lawyer Mario Macias and a passenger registered only as Gerardo N. boarded a private jet headed to Toluca, Mexico. Also on the plane were pilots Miguel Perez and Alejandro Torres.
Shortly after take-off, the plane went off radar and after hours of search, only scattered clothes and personal items of the victims were found among ashes and burned remains of the plane.
“The first thing that came to my mind was her children because Jenni was the main head of her family,” recalls Sonia, who found out about the accident when her mother called her crying into their living room to watch the news. “All I could think was that if I were in the shoes of Jenni’s children and lost my mom, I would feel horrible.”
Like many teenagers, Sonia grew up listening to Jenni’s music as her mom played it on the radio while doing her household chores. Then, when “I Love Jenni” was secured on the television network, the young aspiring singer was able to enjoy more of her role model. “I watch it because she never hid anything,” said Sonia. “We all have problems but Jenni never tried to cover hers up. I liked that.”
Born in Long Beach, California, Rivera sold over 15 million albums worldwide and was nominated for numerous Latin Grammys. She was the only female artist nominated for a 2013 Premios Lo Nuestro “Artist of the Year” award along with Maná, Don Omar, La Arrolladora Banda el Limon de Rene Camacho and Romeo Santos.
The artist was at the peak of her career as the most current female singer in Regional Mexican music. With numerous albums to her name in addition to a real estate business, cosmetics and fragrance collection, denim wear, and other entrepreneurial ventures, the 43-year-old mother of five is considered one of the pioneers of the new generation of bilingual, Mexican-American artists of the genre.
“I feel connected to her for many reasons,” said Sonia. “She came from a poor family, she was a great singer, a good person and never gave up on her dream. Even though I may be too young to really understand all her music, it was all about never giving up and I understood that.”
Through tears, Marcela Chavez, Sonia’s mother, takes the incident as an opportunity for people to reflect on their current relationships, especially those between parents and their children. “I don’t know what happens with many of us, maybe it’s pride,” she said. “But many times we don’t tell our children how much we love them, we don’t hold them long enough or have conversations with them, but we should because we could easily go to the store and never come back. It’s silly how we are. I’m sure her children were the last thing Jenni was thinking about.”
When asked what is the one thing they will carry with them from Jenni, Mrs. Chavez replied, “her love for her children. She was strong and raised her children well without the help of a man. And she did that out of her love for her children.” As for Sonia, she says Jenni’s strength motivated her. “Every time she went through something rough she never gave up. I try to be like that, too. I can’t believe this is happening but if God took her, I know it’s because he needed her with Him.”