Local Ahwatukee and Tempe residents Sherry Finzer and Darin Mahoney will be releasing their first duo CD, “Transformation,” on Aug. 1.

The two musicians first met at a wildfire benefit at Greer Arizona two years ago, where they both were able to perform on stage with one another.

The music chemistry was an instant connection between both Finzer and Mahoney, while they chatted about different collaboration ideas.

Finzer originally from Rochester, N.Y., moved to Ahwatukee eight years ago and has always had a passion for music, with her background being in the classical genre.

While living in Ahwatukee Finzer said she met other local artists who challenged her to move outside of her musical comfort, exploring other genres such as world, jazz and pop.

Her two previous albums, “Sanctuary” and “Sanctuary II,” Finzer said are in the new age of music arena.

Finzer has played with several musicians throughout her music career in the Valley; buy says there’s a certain connection while playing with Mahoney.

Both musicians have different backgrounds when it comes to music, with Mahoney’s music being towards rock and Finzer focusing on classical.

Yet, their love for the craft of music and making a connection with the listener to help them cope with everyday struggles is what keeps these two going.

Finzer said while during a night performance at Tempe Marketplace she was performing some Top 40 pop songs and a mother sat down with her son to listen.

When Finzer was finished performing the mother approached her, thanking Finzer because her son suffers from autism and said she had never seen him sit down to listen to music before.

“It’s things like that that keeps me doing what I’m doing,” Finzer said. “It doesn’t matter to me if I’m playing for hundreds of people, if I can help them with my music that’s all that matters to me.”

New music

Each of the songs on “Transformation” has their own instrumental story, where Mahoney plays the acoustic guitar and Finzer plays the flute.

Inspirations for the songs on the new album derive from different life experiences that both Finzer and Mahoney faced, with the symbolism representing walking through a door that has been closed due to some obstacle.

Mahoney spoke on how one of the songs off the CD, called “Confused,” depicts his emotions on picking up a guitar for the first time in seven months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, which spread through his liver, spleen, and other parts of his body.

Doctors decided to conduct an experimental chemotherapy to try and fight the cancer, giving Mahoney some shred of hope.

Mahoney said the chemotherapy was so aggressive that all his muscle structure in his body was gone and he had to gain his strength through time.

“I went from living a harder life and then being tossed right back to being almost a new born,” he said.

While Mahoney was battling to survive cancer, doctors were telling him he had three months to live, and being a musician he figured music could help him cope with the situation.

However, during that time in his life he didn’t want to listen to any type of music.

It wasn’t until his father brought him a few instrumental CDs to listen to while being in the hospital, and he instantly fell in love with the music.

“It was something I could actually lay there and try to deal,” Mahoney said.

He’s currently in remission, but the thought of having the cancer come back is always in the back of his mind.

Being that Mahoney is a cancer survivor, he and Finzer both decided to give back to the cause on helping to spread awareness and have people listen to their new album.

The two decided to have a concert party celebrating the release of “Transformation” at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee, with a portion of the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

“We’ve discussed at other concerts that we would like to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Cancer Society,” Finzer said.

They both decided to choose Mountain View Lutheran Church for the location because of its quite ambiance, which allows for a better musical feel.

Mahoney said collaborating with Finzer is a gratifying experience while playing in a small atmosphere, rather than sharing the stage with big-name artists such as Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, which he’s done in the past.

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. on Aug. 2, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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