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Rivera moved by student artwork

  • Courtesy Larry Rivera

    Entertainer Larry Rivera beams at his likeness on the drawing on the cover of Mandy Gokan’s booklet, “Celebrating Songs and Composers of Kauai,” at Kapaa Elementary School.

Larry Rivera enjoys the spotlight. After all, he’s been in it for much of his life during his singing and songwriting career that’s spanned more than six decades on Kauai.

But seeing a drawing of his likeness on a page of this year’s Kapaa Elementary School yearbook left him speechless. Well, almost speechless.

“I don’t know what to say when I saw that. I didn’t know those children know me,” he said when his granddaughter pointed out he was certainly the performer depicted by fifth-grader Mandy Gokan. “How would they know me? Isn’t that something?”

There, right under the words “Celebrating Songs and Composers of Kauai,” is a drawing of a man smiling, wearing a lei, balancing a guitar in front of him with a frog sitting on the handle.

In the background are the notes to his famous song, “Kamalani,” (The Legend of the Frog).

Gokan wrote four paragraphs about the island’s musicians. She writes, in her concluding graph: “Their music of Kauai is heavily focused on the myths and beauty of the islands. It’s not about rage or pain; it’s about joy and beauty, healing and nature, people and places. There’s no better way to grasp the spirit of aloha than to listen, really listen, to the songs of Kauai.”

Rivera, known to be an irrepressible man with a joyous smile and spirit, was impressed by her drawing.

“She never once put my name, but everybody knows it’s me,” he said. “Amazing that a little girl did all that.”

He said the drawing shows him wearing an outfit for performing.

“Everybody knew that’s how I dress for my show,” he said. “I have a picture like this, exactly, taken at the museum.”

Rivera even went to Kapaa Elementary on the last day of school, May 31, so he could meet his fan.

“Yeah, that’s you,” Gokan told him.

Rivera, appreciative as ever, thanked her and presented her with a copy of his CD, “Beautiful Rainbow,” which includes 12 songs he wrote and sang. “Kamalani” is one of those songs.

Of his many honors during his legendary career, this one ranks among the most cherished, he said.

“I thought this was unbelievable,” he said.

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

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