In concert and on recordings, Witkowski’s explosive performances combine virtuosity and heart, telling stories that reveal her innate curiosity of the human condition. Her albums range from powerhouse arrangements of Cole Porter standards (Wide Open Window; Length of Days) to sparkling trio re- imaginings of traditional hymns (Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns) to solo piano that blurs the lines between Brazilian, jazz, and classical (Raindrop: Improvisations with Chopin). Witkowski has recorded with 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.
Dedicated to bringing communities together through jazz, Witkowski has worked as a guest music leader in over one hundred churches across the United States. Her weekly video series, “Off the Page: Sacred Jazz,” shares practical resources for church musicians and her jazz hymn arrangements have been purchased by over 500 churches.
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 Choral Arts Initiative PREMIERE|Project Festival.
Following in the steps of her chosen soul companion and lifelong mentor, Witkowski relocated to Mary Lou Williams’ hometown of Pittsburgh in 2020. She is a second-year doctoral student in jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
2021: Theodore Mother Guerin Research Travel Grant (University of Notre Dame) for “Writing Friendships: Letter Correspondence Between Jazz Pianist Mary Lou Williams and Women Religious, 1961–1981” 2021: SATB modern justice anthem, “We Walk in Love,” is selected as the sole composition to celebrate Music in Our Schools Month by the 15,000 teacher member Pennsylvania State Education Association, Mideastern Region, for a 32-voice virtual choir comprised of students from ten high schools. 2017: Sacatar Institute Fellowship, Bahia, Brazil (2018 eight week residency) 2016: New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) fiscal sponsorship for new Afro-Brazilian project, the Nossa Senhora Suite 2015: Berger-Carter Research Fund grant recipient, Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies, NJ Research on jazz in Catholicism in the late 1960s/early 1970s 2011: Finalist for a Fulbright research/teaching award in São Paulo, Brazil 2002: Winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Jacksonville, FL Fan Award 2016: Hothouse New York Fans Decision Jazz Award- best pianist Composing- Awards and commissions 2017: Winner of the ChoralArt New England Carol Contest (SATB a cappella piece, “A Christmas Carol”) 2017: Winner of the Colorado Chorale commissioning contest (2018 premiere) 2017: Winner of the Annual Hymn Search of The Hymn Society in the US and Canada (“We Belong to God”) 2017: Justice Choir call for scores: SATB song, “We Walk in Love,” is selected for the Justice Choir Songbook, Vol. 1 2017: St. Peter Episcopal Church, Astabula, OH (SA commission, “Who Do You Say?”) 2016: MusicSpoke: Selected as a MusicSpoke affiliated composer 2016: Lutheran Arts’ Martin Luther Hymn Prize recipient (new hymn and anthem commission) 2016: Illinois-ACDA Composition Contest Winner (for SSAA piece, “Where Shadow Chases Light”) 2015: Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists, New York One of five composers selected for the annual music-theatre workshop 2015: The Astoria Choir Call for Scores Winner (for SSAATTB piece, “Glistening Lily”) 2013: The American Prize in Choral Composition semifinalist (for “Glistening Lily”) 2013-15: Park Avenue Christian Church, New York Over fifteen original works for Sanctuary Choir, Gospel Choir, and congregation 2010: United Methodist Women’s Assembly, St. Louis, MO (theme song for 6000 attendees) 2004: Concentus Women’s Choir, Rochester, NY (SSAA commission, ‘I learned that her name was Proverb’)
- Length of Days by John Kelman
- Length of Days by Dan McClenaghan
- Length of Days by Jerry D'Souza
Take Five With...
- From This Place by Jerry D'Souza
- Raindrop: Improvisations with Chopin by Hrayr Attarian
- Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns by Dan Bilawsky
Radio & Podcasts
- Force of Nature by Jerome Wilson
September 21, 2017
Pianist Deanna Witkowski Presents Trio Arrangements Of 14 Hymns On...
November 22, 2010
The Sacred Jazz of Deanna Witkowski
September 23, 2010
Filo Machado and Deanna Witkowski on US tour from Oct 10-21
March 10, 2010
Filo Machado Joins Deanna Witkowski in Concert from 3/19-23 in VT, MA,...
August 26, 2009
Pianist/Composer/Vocalists Deanna Witkowski and Brenda Earle Share a...
April 24, 2009
Download Three Free MP3s by Pianist Deanna Witkowski
March 17, 2009
Deanna Witkowski CD Release Concert
July 25, 2007
Deanna Witkowski and Sarah Manning at Jazz Gallery on August 4th
June 01, 2007
Deanna Witkowski Solo Performance at the Fazioli Salon, 8 June at 8 PM
December 05, 2006
Deanna Witkowski and Dr. Tammy Kernodle present Moving with the Spirit:...
One of the best of the new generation of jazz piano players. -Bruce Crowther, Jazz Journal International
PRAISE FOR DEANNA'S BOOK, MARY LOU WILLIAMS: MUSIC FOR THE SOUL: "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
Willing to teach
Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson
Force of Nature
Makes the Heart to...
From This Place
Length of Days
Wide Open Window
Khaeon World Music
CarcinomaFrom: Force of Nature
By Deanna Witkowski
Kings of Orient (We Three Kings)From: Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz...
By Deanna Witkowski
Light that ShimmersFrom: Raindrop: Improvisations with...
By Deanna Witkowski