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Singer Jenni Rivera to be celebrated at memorial

12:32 PM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
In this March 8, 2012 file photo, Mexican-American singer and reality TV star Jenni Rivera poses during an interview in Los Angeles. Las Vegas-based Starwood Management, the company that owns the luxury jet that crashed and killed Rivera on Dec. 9, is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the agency seized two of its planes earlier this year as part of the ongoing probe. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Fans and family members of Jenni Rivera are set to celebrate the life of the Banda singer Wednesday at a memorial service being billed as a "celestial graduation."

One of her five brothers, Pedro Rivera Jr., plans to lead the 10 a.m. service at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles.

"We will celebrate the graduation into heaven, with honors, of our beloved mother, daughter and sister," the family said in a statement.

Rivera and six others died Dec. 9 in a northern Mexico plane crash that remains under investigation.

The mother of five and grandmother of two was 43 years old.

Rivera sold more than 15 million copies of her 12 major-label albums. Her soulful singing style and her 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 local flea markets. By the end of the 90s, she won a major-label contract and built a loyal following that knew her as the "Diva de la Banda."

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.

Free tickets to the public memorial service were quickly snapped up Tuesday afternoon. Rivera's burial will be private.

Sandy Cohen, AP Entertainment Writer

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