Gigs in MN and NYC: 4/29 in Collegeville, MN; 5/3 in Nyack, NY; 5/13-17 in NYC

I’ve been in Collegeville, Minnesota for the entire month of April working on my Mary Lou Williams biography. More on that in the next blog post! In the meantime, here are some performance dates coming up super soon (check my calendar page for further details):

A view of Lake Sagatagan on the campus of Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

•Mon, April 29: I’m celebrating my final night in MN with a concert with the College of St. Benedict/Saint John’s University Jazz Ensemble:

•Fri, May 3 at 8 pm: My trio will perform one set only at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY:

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We Walk in Love- the story behind Deanna’s Justice Choir song

We Walk in Love- piano part!
We Walk in Love- piano part!
Now Deanna’s original song in the Justice Choir Songbook has a piano part (complete with a modulation)!
Price: $2.00

In early 2017, I responded to a call for scores for a new collection of social justice songs being curated by Abbie Betinis, Tesfa Wondemagegnhehu, and Ahmed Anzaldúa. The songs to be selected as part of a new movement called Justice Choir would be offered free of charge for anyone to sing for non-commercial use: at concerts, marches, protests, and in houses of worship.

The idea was to have accessible, easy-to-learn songs that speak into the moment that we are living in now, and to provide opportunities for all to create community by singing together.

When I saw a Facebook post from Abbie about the call for scores, I immediately responded by sitting down at the piano. I wrote and harmonized a simple tune in 3/4- not rangy, no big jumps, something that everyone could sing.

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Mary Lou Williams and Deanna’s trip to Pittsburgh

UPDATE: Click to hear audio from Deanna’s December 2018 performance-lecture on the sacred music of Mary Lou Williams.

As a musician, the sensation of being “in the flow” occurs when music is easily moving through me; when group interplay rises to unexpected levels; when everything happens with ease. I experience this on many occasions while playing music, and less often off of the stage or away from the piano bench. So on a recent trip to Pittsburgh which yielded new friendships, introduced me to new colleagues, and opened up a plethora of work opportunities, I kept marveling at how “in the flow” my life felt during my ten day sojourn.

In front of Mary Lou Williams’ elementary school in Pittsburgh.

Last spring when Christa Burneff invited me to perform a solo concert in Pittsburgh at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts, I immediately started thinking about making an extended trip to continue my research on Mary Lou Williams. At the time when Christa contacted me, I had recently received an inquiry from the Catholic publisher, Liturgical Press. They approached me with the idea of having me write a book on Williams for their “People of God” biographical series. After the book contract was finalized, I knew that I had to take advantage of the opportunity to spend some time in Williams’ hometown of Pittsburgh.

Leading up to my trip, I started questioning my decision to go to Pittsburgh an entire nine days in advance of my December 8 concert at Hillman. After all, I hadn’t yet made many contacts in Pittsburgh, and I didn’t want to sit around without having meetings set up in advance.

The flurry of events that followed quelled any doubts that I had about the length of my trip.

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