sacred music


New trio album featuring 14 of Deanna’s jazz hymn arrangements. Corresponding sheet music book with fully notated piano scores and lead sheets is available HERE.

Why mix jazz and hymns? Check out the new promo video below.

Watch Deanna’s sacred jazz video playlist


Wondering what a jazz service can look like? Check out the video below from a jazz vespers at Dallas UMC with Deanna’s trio.

Watch the congregation at First Baptist Greenville sing Deanna’s samba arrangement of “Shall We Gather at the River.”

Watch the congregation and choir at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale, MN sing Deanna’s original song, “Come and Feast.”

Wondering what jazz worship bulletins can look like? Click here to view past bulletins/programs.

Click on the photo to read testimonials/view a list of churches that have hosted Deanna.

“I have loved working with Deanna over the years for chapel worship here at Roberts Wesleyan College.  Her skill and talent amazes; her sensitivity to God’s Spirit in the liturgy and music unmistakable. Every time she is among us you can sense that we have made space and sacred time to reflect and listen to God’s voice.”    -Jonathan Bratt, chaplain at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, NY


“Deanna’s music has come along when we as church musicians need it the most. Her language is unique and fresh, and her melodies are singable by amateur and professional alike.” -Paul Klemme, music director, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Salem, OR

Cover of From This Place songbook

Deanna has created a 137 page spiral-bound songbook that corresponds with her sacred jazz recording, From This Place. Click on the cover for a 13-page excerpt.

To hear/see excerpts, and to purchase any of Deanna’s sacred pieces, visit the online sheet music store. All pieces, including each hymn arrangement on Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns, are available as individual pdfs; the From This Place songbook is also available as a spiral-bound book. Most files include a lead sheet, notated piano score, and bulletin insert (if the piece is for congregational singing).

Deanna’s music is well-written and harmonically sophisticated and is engaging to choirs and congregations without being excessively difficult. She makes it easy to use what she’s written, which is key to introducing new material. It has been a real gift to have our congregation sing and appreciate sacred jazz regularly.
– Paul Vasile, executive director, Music That Makes Community, and former music director, Park Avenue Christian Church, New York, NY


Looking for a new Psalm setting for soprano and oboe? A piece for your classical choir? Your gospel choir? A new jazz hymn arrangement? Contact Deanna for info on how to commission a new work- and see the videos below for two examples of commissioned pieces.

Sheet music for both of these pieces is available at Deanna’s sacred music page. Who Do You Say? also has two mp3s: a track with both vocal parts with piano, bass, and drums; and a separate practice track with just rhythm section.

Deanna is an award-winning choral composer: in 2016, she won the Illinois ACDA Choral Composition Contest for her SSAA piece, “Where Shadow Chases Light” and is a recipient of the Lutheran Arts sponsored Martin Luther Hymn Prize. See a full list of Deanna’s commissions and awards at her awards page.


FROM THIS PLACE (sacred jazz recording)

Click here to preview and purchase tracks from Deanna’s recording, From This Place.

Click here to listen to Deanna’s related interview on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday with host Liane Hansen.

from-this-placeDeanna Witkowski has combined The Spirituality of the Soul and Heart with The Spirituality of Jazz. These performances are, above all, prayerful. They are also properly liturgical and and should be sung and played in churches. Ms. Witkowski continues the work of Mary Lou Williams…this music is ‘healing to the Soul’.

-the late Rev. Peter F. O’Brien, SJ, Executive Director of The Mary Lou Williams Foundation



Deanna was the opening lecturer on the 2011-12 Shannon Lecture Series at Nazareth College.

Deanna was the opening lecturer on the 2011-12 Shannon Lecture Series at Nazareth College.

Hear audio from an April 2016 talk/performance at Christ Church in Oak Brook, IL HERE.

Deanna is a frequent presenter on jazz and spirituality. Lectures and workshops have included:

Jazz Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs: Resources for the Church Musician
2015 Hymn Society Conference, New Orleans

Jazz and Proverb: A Musical Portrait of Wisdom in the Work of Four Female Artists (Mary Lou Williams, Mahalia Jackson, Denise Levertov, Julian of Norwich)
2013 International Thomas Merton Society Meeting

Moving with the Spirit: The Sacred Art of Jazz and Beyond Words: Improvisation as Prayer
2011-12 Shannon Lecture Series in Catholic Studies at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY

Deanna has also given workshops at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Houghton College, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Contact Deanna for info on how to bring her to your school, church, or conference.


christianity-today-logoRead Deanna’s essay in Christianity Today: Can Worship Leaders and Musicians Resist the Temptation to Perform?

NPRListen to an interview with Deanna on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday



Hear Deanna discuss the history of sacred jazz on Interfaith Voices (note: interview begins at 39:20).