Freedom in Music

Comments: 7

Admira Virtuoso

Like every other kid who played the guitar in America, I wanted to be a rock star. My friends and I would jam to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Rush, KISS and others.

Back in the 80s, one of my friends went on to be a part of the punk rock scene in Los Angeles.

My dreams of stardom came to an end when I found myself in a fundamentalist religious cult. Rock music was “Verboten!”

Some “pastors” didn’t even want me to play the guitar. The instrument was “too worldly.” Others were OK with it as long as I played hymns.  Even “Christian Rock” was “of the devil.”

Publicly, I denounced rock music. Privately, I kept playing it.

Then, something interesting happened around 1986.  I heard a man play the “Mazurka Choro” by Heitor Villa Lobos on the classical guitar.

The music spoke to me. It told a soothing story of calm and peace. I knew that I HAD to learn to play like he did.

I HAD to.

For a while I taught myself. I bought some simple sheet music and began practicing.

I entered the ministry and it took me and my family to Chile. While there I found a guitar teacher named Gonzalo. He guided me dramatically in my development on the guitar.

I would play religious music in the ministry, but classical and even rock <gasp!> when I was “off.” After a while I went ahead and bought an electric guitar and introduced it into my church services.  Since I was the pastor, I could do what I wanted!

Even though I was in charge, by crossing that line I knew that my days with the denomination were numbered!

I won’t go into details and name names, but I soon had to make a “choice.”  I knew I had to leave Chile or there would literally be Hell to pay.

We moved back to our home state of Arizona and hid from our denomination for about 6 months.  After that time I was able to find a regular job and resign from the denomination.

It was one of the happiest days of my life.  As a family, we have never looked back.

In Arizona I met master guitarist Dr. Eduardo Minozzi Costa. I have been studying guitar with him since 2012 via Skype. He helped me understand that I could play at any level I wanted to if I had the right tools.

He is such a gifted teacher, that my playing took a quantum leap forward.

After a couple of years of study, I began playing gigs around Yuma, Arizona. . . . an art show here, a charity program there. I even played in the hospital lobby for a while.

Most of these were unpaid gigs.  Aside from a regular gig in a local wine bar, most of the time I just played for tips.

I didn’t care, though. I played for people because I loved to do it.  It also gave me experience performing in front of people.

I began to notice that some of the people who listened to me were being “taken away” by the music. Their eyes were closed as they listened to me play the “Mazurka Choro” and other beautiful pieces for them.

I feel as though I have come full circle:  From listener way back in 1986 to performer of that beautiful music today.

It wasn’t over yet, though. Some of my fans and friends began bugging me about making a recording. I resisted the idea at first.  My day job as a mental health counselor is rather demanding.

It dawned on me, though, that I take music for granted. I play it every day. My friends and fans had to make a special effort to come see me. I wanted them to be able to hear the music whenever they wanted.

So, I began to record. As of this writing, my first album is almost complete. When it is done, it will be available in both MP3 and as a physical CD through this site. I can’t wait to share it.

There is no shortage of good music to play out there. So much, that I have about half of the second album already planned. 🙂

So, what about Rock? Do I still play it? From time to time I’ll goof off with some riffs from Rush on the nylon string guitar (they actually sound pretty cool).

In fact, if you come hear me play at North End Coffeehouse in Yuma on any given Saturday morning I’ll probably play an arrangement of Stairway to Heaven that I learned when I was about 14.

Of all the music I have learned over the years, that one gets requested the most.

Music has been one of the constants in my life. It is a big reason why I left religious fundamentalism.

For me, it is peace. It is freedom.


  • Maurine Benbow says:

    What a wonderful story, Kevin! I can’t believe people in some forms of religion are made to believe any kind of music is bad. It’s a shame that some people with talent such as yours are made to put aside their love for music and are kept from exercising it in the name of religion. I’m so glad you got out from under such a dark, oppressive cloud and followed what you knew you had to do. I for one, will never tire of hearing you play. It is freedom for me, too.

  • LuAnn Crim says:

    Beautiful story, Kevin. I am so glad you were lead to follow your love of music, and to share that music with the world. As you grow in fame and followers, you will bring your beautiful music to many. Thank you for having the courage and determination to follow your dream!

    • Kevin Benbow says:

      Hi LuAnn: Thanks for the nice words and encouragement. It’s a wonderful hobby! Enjoy the downloads!! Let me know if you have any difficulty accessing them.

  • Capt Paul Sims says:

    Prayers and Blessings, Pray and Play till Death for your Calling Bro. Look forward to your CD release, but please keep your gifts Blessing us and Lord.

    • Kevin Benbow says:

      Hi Paul: Sorry I’m late replying here. The physical CD is being produced as I type. I believe it will be in my hands toward the end of the month. Once I give it a thorough listen I’ll make it available here. The MP3 version is available now. Be well!

  • Jere Truer says:

    That is a great story. I tried to incorporate folk music into a church youth choir I led at age 19. I had them sing Welcome to My World, a Dean Martin hit that uses the words of Jesus. The church had a cow! Lutheranism was not as oppressive but I still chafed under it. I went in a mystical Eastern direction. There is too much spiritual abuse and my former clients can attest. Your guitar saved you and the world is much better off for it.

    • Kevin Benbow says:

      Thanks Jere. Religious fundamentalism with its rigid ideology is a blight on the world. I’m glad to be free of it.

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