Podcast: Deanna Witkowski on Mary Lou Williams and Sacred Jazz

Our guest for this episode of the Music at Pitt Podcast is Deanna Witkowski, a Jazz Studies grad student who is new to the program, but certainly not new to the jazz scene. Deanna brings her experience as a nationally renowned pianist, vocalist, composer, and author to her doctoral studies at Pitt where she’s specializing in the music of Mary Lou Williams. Deanna is a noted Williams scholar, lecturing and performing Williams’s music at the University of Pittsburgh, Duke University, and most recently as a featured performer with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Her upcoming biography, Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul, will be published by Liturgical Press in 2021.

Not unlike Williams, Deanna has composed a great deal of sacred music, including choral anthems such as We Walk in Love and Where Shadow Chases Light, as well as jazz arrangements of classic hymns. She has also created resources to help congregational musicians of all levels engage with jazz as part of their worship experience.

Deanna has been active performing in Pittsburgh in both online and in-person events. You can catch her upcoming performances on  

October 18 in Foxburg, PA (in person, limited seating)

October 21 in Pittsburgh (outdoors at Con Alma Restaurant and Jazz Bar)

Visit deannawitkowski.com to find out more about her work and upcoming performances.

Musical excerpts in this episode: “Wide Open Window” from the album Wide Open Window, and “All Creatures of Our God and King” form the album Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns. All music copyright Deanna Witkowski. Used by permission.