mary lou williams

The pioneering jazz pianist-composer Mary Lou Williams (1910-81) often said that “jazz is love.” Deanna is dedicated to bringing Williams’s generous, soulful legacy to communities across the country.

Watch this 3 minute video from Jazz is Love: The Life & Music of Mary Lou Williams.

Deanna in front of a mural of Mary Lou Williams in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. October 2019.


Deanna’s upcoming biography, Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul, will be published by Liturgical Press as part of this People of God series in early 2021.

Read Deanna’s Oct 2019 article,
The City Where Jazz is Love: Pittsburgh and Mary Lou Williams and learn why Deanna recently spent two months in Williams’s hometown.  


Hear Deanna discuss Mary Lou Williams with Bob Studebaker on this podcast of WESA’s The Confluence (beginning at 22:02)


Listen to Deanna’s first WQED interview from March 2019 that aired just prior to her Pittsburgh Symphony debut playing music of Mary Lou Williams with host Jim Cunningham.


Listen to Deanna’s second WQED interview– and live performance of music by Mary Lou Williams- from June 2019.

With the legendary Jim Cunningham at WQED.

A community mural project along the east busway in Pittsburgh portrays Mary Lou Williams.

Read Deanna’s Nov 2019 interview on Williams in the Pittsburgh Catholic.








Learn how Deanna found Mary Lou Williams and why her story matters.

Music for Peace:
Performance clips and sample concert program

screenshot_106Music for Peace: A Celebration of Mary Lou Williams features award-winning pianist/composer Deanna Witkowski (“consistently thrilling” playing and “boundless imagination” –All Music Guide) leading an instrumental trio and an SATB choir in a performance of works by the preeminent African-American jazz pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981).

The featured work on the program is Williams’ 1967 “Music for Peace,” a monumental work of sacred jazz informed by the Civil Rights movement and Williams’ own deep personal faith. Her remarkably original settings of traditional liturgical texts embrace a compendium of jazz styles, from blues to bossa nova. The program also includes excerpts from Witkowski’s “Evening Mass” from her 2009 recording, From This Place.

MLW Celebration - First page ONLY

Click on the photo to read a 2013 concert program, complete with artist bios and extensive program notes.

Music for Peace is available as a 90-minute concert program with Deanna’s instrumental trio, a core group of vocal soloists, and choirs of various sizes. Perfect for college, community, or church choirs, this jubilant program can be done in conjunction with Deanna’s workshops on jazz and spirituality.

View a menu of programming options here.

View a past concert program with extensive artist bios and program notes here.

Listen to live performance audio samples below.


Gloria (Williams): Sara Serpa, Craig Walter, Deanna Witkowski, soloists

The Lord Says (Williams): Miles Griffith, soloist

In His Day/Peace I Leave With You (Williams): Tammy Scheffer, Dylan Pramuk, soloists

Creed (Williams): Dylan Pramuk, Brenda Earle Stokes, Virginia Mayhew, soloists

Praise the Lord (Come, Holy Spirit) (Williams): Jonathan Hampton, Dylan Pramuk, Roosevelt André Credit, soloists

Evening Mass: Gloria (Witkowski)

Evening Mass: Sanctus (Witkowski)

Evening Mass: Agnus Dei (Witkowski): Leena Conquest, soloist