Artist: Sherry Finzer
People are drawn to playing, recording, and performing music for a wide variety of reasons. And like other aspects of our lives, those reasons can evolve over time. For international award-winning flutist and composer Sherry Finzer, this is certainly true.
Her musical path began early in life – elementary school to be exact. As she tells it: “I remember there being a day where kids that were interested in playing in the band got to stay after school to look at and try out the instruments. Although I don’t remember if I actually tried playing it or not, I liked the instrument because of the silver color and that it was bright and shiny, and I thought it would be pretty easy to carry on the bus!”
But whatever the reasons, that was a fateful decision, and the flute has been her instrumental voice ever since. Sherry went on to take lessons and Master classes in her native upstate New York, performing with symphony orchestras and winning awards in flute competitions. However, after moving to Phoenix, Arizona approximately 10 years ago, the aforementioned changes began to evolve. A variety of different genres such as jazz, pop, rock, world, and new age captured her attention. Since that time, Sherry has performed and recorded in quite a diversity of musical contexts. However, there was something about the new age genre that had a profound effect on Sherry and resonated with her growing awareness of holistic health and healing. As she relates: “It was challenging to take a few steps back from being a classical flutist and just really listening and putting my heart and soul into what I am playing. New age music for me is not technical like classical music, and doesn’t need to be played in a particular style like we are trained for in the classical world.”
This dimension of “heart and soul” is what shines through, not only in Sherry’s music, but also in every aspect of her life. In her words: “My music is intended to touch people either spiritually, or emotionally in a healing way. My hope is that my music makes a difference for others. It is so moving when someone approaches me after a performance to tell me how my music affected them, and took them to another time and place.” For Sherry, music and spirituality are one. She goes on to say: “I think the spiritual element that is heard in my playing is in the fact of knowing that I came to realize several years ago that this is my purpose for being here on this earth; that I am supposed to use the gifts that were given to me to share with others.”
That process of sharing has taken many forms over the years. Sherry is very active as a performer, not only in the Phoenix area, but she tours quite a bit to other areas as well. As she describes: “Performing is really an outlet for me to share and express my feelings through music. I think I can probably do that better than talking. It is a powerful feeling to be performing and really see someone connecting with you through by what they are hearing.” A few summers ago she had the opportunity to work in a music therapy setting in Fairbanks, Alaska with teenagers in a group home, and also with Alzheimer and Dementia patients. This was an enlightening experience for Sherry that often moved her to tears and to the realization that: “I am doing something with my music that really can make a difference in someone’s life.” In addition to her work as an artist, Sherry is also a flute teacher, offering private lessons at her studio in Phoenix, as well as being the founder and president of the local non-profit Arizona World Music Initiative, and the host of the Heart Dance radio program.
But another form of sharing that she is widely known for is her prolific recording career. At this point, Sherry has released 11 CD’s, including 3 in her Sanctuary series, and last year’s collaborative effort with guitarist Darin Mahoney, Transformation, which was awarded One World Music “Best Album of 2013.” She has also recorded with Southwest-flavored duo Dulce Vas, which I have had the pleasure of writing about. Sherry’s recordings have garnered critical acclaim as well as mass popularity, leading to her being a semi-finalist for a GRAMMY award nomination in 2010, 2012 and 2013. According to Sherry: “I absolutely LOVE being in the recording studio. I can’t seem to go much longer than a year without finding or creating an opportunity for me to get back in there.” Sherry’s music is played internationally on radio stations around the world, including Sirius XM Radio.
Her current release is entitled Sanctuary III: Beyond the Dream and consists of original tunes as well as renditions of well known songs such as “Amazing Grace,” “Hallelujah,” and “Wayfaring Stranger.” She also arranged and recorded “Grace” written by internationally renown pianist Fiona Joy. A beautiful and moving track entitled “Song For Rex” was one Sherry wrote for her unborn grandson who is due in December of 2014. In addition to flute, the album’s accompaniment includes atmospheric synthesizers, electronic effects, and nature sounds, as well as Darin Mahoney’s acoustic guitar on one track. The music is flowing and peaceful, providing a fitting soundtrack for relaxation, massage, yoga, etc. While it is the alto flute that Sherry used on most of this album, as well as on her new age recordings in general, she also plays a number of other different flutes. As she explains: “Just a few years ago I added a bass flute to my arsenal. It is made by a flute maker called Guo in Taiwan and they have made me one of their performing artists. They even put my picture next to flutist Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull on their marketing material – what an honor! I do dabble a bit with some world flutes and Native American flutes. I imagine I will be doing more performing with the Native American flutes after my tours with Native American flutist Mark Holland in 2015. We have 3 tours currently planned for March, May, and June in Arizona, Missouri, and California.”
In addition to those series of performances, Sherry shares a bit of what else is on the horizon for her: “I will be on the road with guitarist Darin Mahoney in Colorado and New Mexico for November 2014, and joining up with Fiona Joy and Trysette to open for them on their Two Grand I’m Yours Tour for shows in Albuquerque, Sedona, Phoenix and Tucson. There are plans in the works for me to do some touring in Australia with Fiona Joy in Sept. 2015. Darin Mahoney and I would like to record another album together as well in 2015 or 2016. I will also be working on building my record label, Heart Dance Records, in the near future, and hope to add several more artists to the label.”
As I began by saying, people play music for a variety of reasons. But I believe that the most fortunate are those who find their calling and soul purpose in that creative expression, using it in service to the greater good. Sherry Finzer feels blessed to be one of those people. I’ll leave the final words to her to share her perspective on this and sum up her mission in music: “For me – I am singing with my flute. That is my voice. I hope people hear me connecting with them and their emotions by using my flutes as if I were singing to them. My goal is to leave people feeling uplifted, and/or more at peace after listening to my music.”
Click on album covers to read reviews of Sherry’s previous albums here on Music and Media Focus: