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Utahn has first album after 30 years of making art

Benjamin Devey considers himself an artist, not a musician.

"My first love is art," Devey said during a phone call from Provo. "I write my own songs and play guitar, but I can't play other people's songs."Devey, 37, began his love of art while very young, he said. "I guess I was in fourth grade when I first did something with art. I just started copying the `Mona Lisa' from a book. After I finished, I took it up to the librarian and she couldn't believe I drew it."

Since then, Devey has pencil-copied many works from various artists until, though the encouragement of family and friends, he began to pursue art full time.

"But I've always loved music," he said. "I listened to classical, folk and a lot of '70s music. You could say I followed the `Three B's' - Bach, Beethoven and the Beatles."

Devey said he tried to play other people's songs but just couldn't get the hang of it.

"We'd sit around the campfire, and I'd have to sing my own songs," he said with a laugh.

In 1990, Devey officially started working on an album of his own works. It took nearly five years for the project to finish.

"At the time I went through a divorce and was raising my three sons alone," Devey said. "The project was self-propelling, though. And it was very rewarding. So you could say this album is all I have to show from 30 years of making music and art."

The sessions began by request of a friend. "My friend had a basement studio and I gave him a demo tape, but while I was working in the studio, I found I lacked timing. So I hired different musicians to play the music for me."

Michael Dowdle and other prominent local musicians took on Devey's music during the sessions.

"I was surprised at how they brought my music to life," Devey said. "The music is about love. And I tried to find what I believe love is.

"I think the message of music is important," Devey said. "These days a love song incorporates things that are not love. The ideas of co-dependency, lust and controlled drama are mistaken for love. And that's not what I think love is."

To Devey, love is more than affection and expressions.

"It builds both the giver and the receiver," he noted. "Love means honoring one's self and others with virture, inner joy, wholeness, gratitude, respect . . . and nurturing.

"That is what I hoped to reveal through my music," he said.

Although he played only a little on the recording, Devey, who is a professional graphic artist, also did the art work for the album cover.