Deanna’s sacred music
MAKES THE HEART TO SING: JAZZ HYMNS
FROM THIS PLACE
Deanna’s 2009 sacred jazz recording, From This Place, features original songs, new settings of 19th century hymn texts, and a jazz Mass. With Donny McCaslin, John Patitucci, and Scott Latzky, and guest vocalists Laila Biali, Kate McGarry, and Peter Eldridge. Corresponding 137-page spiral-bound (or digital) sheet music book HERE.
Deanna 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
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).
Jazz Worship Services
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.
“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
More choral and congregational sheet music
“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
Check out Deanna’s original paraphrase of Psalm 100, “We Belong to God,” that won the 2017 Annual Hymn Search of The Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada below (sheet music is available here along with more original congregational music).
Deanna is also 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.
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.
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.
Listen 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).