Four months after the tragic death of Mexican-American banda singer Jenni Rivera, Leila Cobo – an author, journalist and the executive editor of Latin content and programming for Billboard—wrote a biography on “La diva de la banda.”
Cobo spoke to Fox News Latino about her biography, “Jenni Rivera: La increíble vida de una mariposa guerrera (the incredible story of a warrior butterfly).”
-Leila, you had the pleasure of knowing Jenni personally. How was she like in person and what about her stuck with you that made you want to write this book?
I knew Jenni for several years, since the mid 2000s, when I started covering her accomplishments on the Billboard chart. I had her as a speaker in several Billboard conferences, including one where she sat in an all-women panel, another one where we had the entire Rivera family at a panel, and finally, a Q&A at last year’s Billboard Latin Music Conference, in addition to many other interviews. What most struck me, every time, was how seriously she took herself and her career and her craft. Although she could wield a great sense of humor, she was very aware of her place as an entertainer, a businesswoman and a mother, and all three were important to her.
-What will the fans get out of this book that they will not get from other Jenni Rivera biographies?
This is the story of Jenni’s life, told through many different points of views, and in a very objective, step by step fashion. This is really the only document I know of that brings together the main events in her life under one roof, if you will. The media talks a lot about Jenni, but most of that talk is centered on gossip and innuendo. This book is centered on facts. For the first time, for example, we have compiled all her Billboard chart activity – I think it’s a priceless resource for Jenni fans and for fans of Mexian music in general, not to mention that her story is a major inspirational story.
-Have you been able to communicate with Jenni’s children and family? If so, what perspective were they able to offer that was helpful for the book?
I let the family know I was writing the book. However, I didn’t interview them because the death was so recent, and I didn’t want to concentrate on Jenni post-death, but rather, Jenni’s incredible life and career.
-Where were you when the news broke the Jenni and her crew had gone missing and how did you feel when the news of her tragic death was confirmed?
I was at home, checking my Twitter! And I started to see buzz surrounding Jenni Rivera. It was a Sunday night and I had tickets to go see Aerosmith. Needless to say, I missed the concert. I kept thinking her plane surely would be found. It was very shocking.
-What was the goal that you had in mind when writing this book? Why now?
Penguin approached me about writing the book. They are experts in celebrity biographies, and they were looking for a writer to tell this story. At the same time, I knew there were already several Jenni books in the works. Quite honestly, I felt that this was a story I could tell with integrity, with respect, and above all, with knowledge. I was sick and tired of reading just “chisme” on Jenni and just the wildest speculation. Often, I think her talent was lost in the buzz of the celebrity mill. In fact, after doing the Billboard Q&A with me last April, Jenni herself put it into words during her I Love Jenni show: She said, “Media always want to know about the gossip but in this conference people really wanted to know about the human being. The person.”
-How did Jenni Rivera inspire you?
She was a tremendous example of a woman who triumphs against all odds. Women can be strong and successful. And Jenni was an example of that.