The Mexican-American singer, who died at 43 in a plane crash on Dec. 9, was the female voice of banda music, a brass-heavy genre of Mexican pop dominated by men. A Long Beach, Calif., native and reality-TV star, Rivera cemented her reputation as La Diva de la Banda when she won Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year at Billboard’s 2012 Mexican Music Awards. Instead of letting personal troubles — including a history of domestic abuse and a recent divorce — bring her down, she wrote ballads about them to inspire other women. As she said at a press conference the night before she died, “The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up.”
This text originally appeared in the Dec. 24, 2012 issue of TIME magazine.
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