Jenni Rivera memorial service attended by thousands

Jenni Rivera's son Johnny said: "This is the hardest thing I've had to go through"

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Family and friends have paid their final respects to Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera, 10 days after her death in a plane crash.

Rivera's children were among 6,000 mourners who attended the service at Gibson Amphitheatre, Los Angeles.

Rivera was born in California in 1969 to Mexican parents and sold more than 15m records of norteno and banda music.

The 43-year-old died when the plane she was travelling in came down in northern Mexico on 9 December.

Dressed in white, Rivera's family led the memorial service as images of the singer played on three large screens.

'Best mother'

"We're not here to mourn the death," her son Michael, 21, told more than 6,000 mourners who packed the theatre for the service lasting nearly two-and-a-half-hours.

"We're here to celebrate the life and graduation of a singer, an entertainer, a diva, a fighter, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and more than anything, a mother - the best mother."

He then called for 27 seconds of silence for the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Fans at memorial service for Jenni Rivera Rivera was known to fans as the "diva de la banda"

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rivera was known as the "diva de la banda". She sold about 15 million albums and earned a slew of Latin Grammy nominations during her 17-year career.

Most of her music was about her misfortunes in love and she was especially well-loved by her fans for the way she talked openly about her troubles.

"Jenni made it OK for women to be who they are," said her manager, Pete Salgado.

Humble beginnings

"Jenni also made it OK to be from nothing, with the hopes of being something."

Rivera's second husband, Juan Lopez, died in 2009, six years after the couple divorced in 2003.

Their youngest child, 11-year-old Johnny, said: "Mama, I've been crying so much these last few days. I miss you so much.

"I hope you're taking care of my dad and I hope he's taking care of you, too."

Start Quote

I just came to say goodbye to a Latina woman, La Gran Senora,”

End Quote Veronika Flores Rivera fan

Among the mourners to attend the service were Mexican singers Marco Antonio Solis and Ana Gabriel and actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Kate del Castillo.

Thousands of fans lined up to lay white roses on top of Rivera's bright red coffin at the end of the service.

One fan, Veronika Flores, drove nearly eight hours from her home in Woodland, California, to be united with other fans at the service.

"I just came to say goodbye to a Latina woman, La Gran Senora," she said, using the name of one of Rivera's popular songs.

The family asked that Latin radio stations play Rivera's song La Gran Senora at noon Thursday in her honour.

She recently divorced her third husband, Esteban Loaiza, a professional baseball player who has played for the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The plane crash in in Nuevo Leon on 9 December which killed Rivera and six others remains under investigation.

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