Read the first 29 pages at litpress.org/Products/GetSample/6401/9780814664018
Deanna's new biography, Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul, will be published on September 15, 2021. Preorder your autographed copy directly from Deanna here! Your purchase also includes a downloadable audio file of "Wide Open Window," Deanna's tribute piece to Williams, recorded on her Wide Open Window album.
Stay tuned for Deanna's forthcoming all Mary Lou Williams album, Force of Nature (MCG Jazz), coming out in late 2021.
"A beautifully written and expertly researched biography of one of the most fascinating Catholic artists of our time. Deanna Witkowski, a musician herself, brings to life a whole era in this engrossing new book about art, music, love, perseverance and faith."
--James Martin, SJ, author of Learning to Pray (and former guest chaplain on The Colbert Report)
"Deanna Witkowski’s Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul is a thrilling account of the extraordinary life of a brilliantly successful African American Jazz artist who became a devout Catholic—and it is so much more besides. The reader who accompanies Mary Lou on her journey bears witness to the historical circumstances that shaped her era: the evolution of Jazz music in America, the challenges African American musicians faced as they tried to practice their art, the sexism of the Jazz world, the difficult and often tragic lives of professional musicians, and the powerful appeal of the Catholic Church to artists in search of meaning in life, stability, and a spiritual home. Witkowski, as a Jazz artist herself who converted to Catholicism, is the ideal person to write this biography of Mary Lou, a figure from the great pantheon of Jazz musicians in whom she 'unexpectedly found a soul companion and a life-long mentor.' Her extensive musical knowledge makes her the perfect guide to Williams’s work, and her identity as a fellow Catholic enables her to empathize with Mary Lou’s spiritual journey. A meticulously researched and well-told tale, Mary Lou Williams is rife with cliffhangers, foreshadowing, tragic losses, psychic and religious visions, and unexpected intrusions of grace. It is also, to this reader’s delight, a labor of love."
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, author of Flannery O’Connor: Fiction Fired by Faith
"In this brief biography, Deanna Witkowski retrieves for Catholics, African American Catholics in particular, the life of jazz virtuoso Mary Lou Williams. Witkowski offers readers a glimpse into the inner life of a ‘musical contemplative,’ who was one of the great jazz pianists, arrangers, and composers of the 20th century. Although befriended, encouraged, and counseled by several priests and women religious, Mary Lou Williams remains unknown among most African American Catholics. This contribution to the People of God series provides an opportunity for us to discover and appreciate the musical talent and spiritual commitment of one of our own."
Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, Professor Emerita, Department of Theology, Boston College
"I've known Deanna Witkowski as a friend and jazz pianist for more than two decades. I've experienced her compassion, her artistry, her gift for translating the sacred into intricate and gorgeous melodies. I've known her as a musician, but now I'm pleased to also know her as an author. I can think of few people better equipped to bring the story and music of Mary Lou Williams to life. Deanna shines brilliant light on Williams's humanity, faith, and immense influence on jazz music. But she also builds a strong case for why Williams was one of our most important modern composers of sacred works. I suspect the music of Mary Lou Williams will be added to many new playlists as a result of this excellent book."
--Edward Gilbreath, author of Reconciliation Blues and Birmingham Revolution
"This is a long-overdue study of an important American artist and unconscionably neglected figure in our particular communion of saints. I am an unabashed fan of Mary Lou Williams, this book, and its author. Deanna Witkowski — a jazz pianist, musicologist, and convert to the Catholic faith — is uniquely qualified for her role in Mary Lou’s revival. Read these pages, and you’ll grow immeasurably richer in history, in music, and in soul."
—Mike Aquilina, EWTN host, author of many books, songwriter, executive vice-president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology
NOTE: Book is available here for US customers only. To order directly from the publisher, visit litpress.org/Products/6401/Mary-Lou-Williams.
ISBN: 9780814664018, 6401
eISBN: 9780814664254, E6425
Details: 160 pgs, 5 3/8 x 8 1/4
Publication Date: 08/15/2021
In Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul, Deanna Witkowski brings a fresh perspective to the life and music of the legendary jazz pianist-composer Mary Lou Williams (1910-81). As a fellow jazz pianist-composer, adult convert to Catholicism, and liturgical composer, Witkowski offers unique insight gleaned from a twenty-year journey with Williams as her chosen musical and spiritual mentor. Viewing Williams’s musical and corporal acts of mercy as part of a singular effort to create community no matter the context, Witkowski examines how Williams created networks of support and friendship through her decades long letter correspondence with various women religious, her charitable work, and her tireless efforts to perform jazz in churches, community centers, concert halls, and schools. Throughout this fascinating story told with equal amounts of deep love and scholarly research, Witkowski illumines Williams’s passionate mantra that “jazz is healing to the soul.”
Deanna Witkowski is an award-winning jazz pianist and composer who recently relocated to Mary Lou Williams’s hometown of Pittsburgh after spending twenty-three years as a New Yorker. Her seven recordings include the forthcoming Force of Nature (MCG Jazz) featuring all Williams compositions, and Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns (Tilapia Records), featuring 14 jazz arrangements of classic hymns alongside a companion sheet music book. As a frequent guest music leader, Witkowski has shared her original liturgical jazz in over one hundred churches throughout the United States. She has lectured and performed the music of Mary Lou Williams at venues including the Kennedy Center, Duke University, Fordham University, and with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She is currently a PhD student in jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
Includes unlimited streaming of Wide Open Window via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
Silent Night- jazz reharmonization
After a Storm (Witkowski/Amy Lowell)
Christ the Light (Phos Hilaron)
Be Filled (Ephesians 5:18-20)
Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns – Compact disc
Makes the Heart to Sing sheet music e-book
Raindrop: Improvisations with Chopin – Compact Disc
From This Place – Compact Disc
From This Place sheet music e-book
From This Place spiral-bound sheet music book
Length of Days – Length of Days
Be Still and Know (Psalm 46:10)
Having to Ask – Limited Edition Compact Disc (only 20 copies available)
Wide Open Window – Limited Edition Compact Disc
Kindle in Us Your Love- lead sheet and piano/vocal score
Alleluia- Lead sheet and piano/vocal score
Pass Me Not- lead sheet and vocal/piano score
Love Came Down- lead sheet and piano score
Make My Joy Complete (for SATB choir, piano, and optional rhythm section)
Kindle in Us Your Love
Come and Feast: a communion calypso
We Walk in Love: a modern justice anthem
Even, Only for This Day: a hymn for this uncertain time
Comfort Ye- choral/piano score and lead sheet
HOLY MANNA: Lead sheet and piano/vocal score
Sheet music for "Who Do You Say?"
We Belong to God: Lead sheet and piano/vocal score
CWM RHONDDA (Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah): Lead sheet and piano/vocal score
Deanna Witkowski New York, New York
An amazingly diverse bandleader who moves with remarkable ease between Brazilian, jazz, classical, and sacred music, pianist- composer-vocalist Deanna Witkowski consistently thrills audiences with explosive performances that combine virtuosity and heart. Winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Witkowski’s accessible yet surprising sound is unmistakably her own.
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