Known for her adventurous, engaging music that heals the soul, pianist-composer-vocalist Deanna Witkowski moves with remarkable ease between Brazilian, jazz, classical, and sacred music. The award-winning bandleader releases her seventh recording, Force of Nature (MCG Jazz) in October 2021, a companion piece to her biography, Mary Lou Williams: Music For The Soul (Liturgical Press), published in August 2021. The two projects cap a twenty-year deep dive into the ground-breaking impact of Williams’ life and music, making Witkowski one of the few living authorities on the iconic pianist. As a sought after Williams expert, she has presented at the Kennedy Center, Duke University, Fordham University, and performed Williams’ compositions as a featured guest with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Witkowski’s explosive performances combine virtuosity and heart, telling stories that reveal her innate curiosity of the human condition. She has recorded with jazz Grammy nominees John Patitucci, Kate McGarry, and Donny McCaslin, and has performed and toured with renowned vocalists Lizz Wright, Nnenna Freelon, Erin Bode, Filó Machado, and Vanessa Rubin.
A prolific choral composer, Witkowski has won multiple competitions for her concert and sacred works. Commissions and new compositions have been funded by organizations including the New York State Council on the Arts (for her Afro-Brazilian project, the Nossa Senhora Suite) and the the Choral Arts Initiative PREMIERE|Project Festival.
Witkowski is a second-year doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh. Experience her work at deannajazz.com.