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BookTALK: Guest Speaker Series

This guide contains resources that complement the Guest Speaker Series sponsored by the Center for Writing and Learning Support and Barbour Library

Library & Online Resources

Deanna WitkowskiKnown for her adventurous, engaging music that heals the soul, pianist-composer-vocalist Deanna Witkowski moves with remarkable ease between Brazilian, jazz, classical, and sacred music. The award-winning bandleader releases her seventh recording, Force of Nature (MCG Jazz) in January 2022, a companion piece to her biography, Mary Lou Williams: Music For The Soul (Liturgical Press), published in September 2021. The two projects cap a twenty-year deep dive into the ground-breaking impact of Williams’ life and music, making Witkowski one of the few living authorities on the iconic pianist. As a sought after Williams expert, she has presented at the Kennedy Center, Duke University, Fordham University, and performed Williams’ compositions as a featured guest with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 

Witkowski’s explosive performances combine virtuosity and heart, telling stories that reveal her innate curiosity of the human condition. She 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.

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.

Witkowski is a second-year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh. Experience her work at

Select Bibliography

Most of the following books are not currently in the Barbour Library collection. The links below will take you to either (which supports local bookstores), the author's online store, or, where you can purchase the book.

Kernoodle, Tammy. Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams2004. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Witkowski, Deanna. Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul, 2021. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

Books and Media in Barbour Library

Print books below may be checked out by PTS students, faculty, and staff, as well as local area patrons who have library accounts (requires an annual fee). Media items are indicated in parentheses. Ebooks are indicated by asterisks, and are available to current PTS students, faculty, and staff only. 

More Barbour Library Resources by Subject

Click on the links below to perform subject searches in the library catalog:

Jazz -- History and Criticism

Jazz -- Religious aspects

Music -- Religious aspects -- Christianity


Select Bibliography

The articles below are not available in either the print or electronic Barbour Library journal collection. Please check your local library for interlibrary loan services in order to obtain copies.

McDonough, John. 2011. “Mary Lou Williams: Woman Of All Eras.” Downbeat 78 (4): 32

McPartland, Marian. 2010. “Gender Barriers? Observations Of A Working Pianist And Bandleader.” Downbeat 77 (3): 86

Sojourners. 2021. “Mary Lou Williams’ Jazz Is for the Masses. Deanna Witkowski Is Spreading the Word.” Sojourners Magazine 50 (8): 39–45.

Articles in Barbour Library

Articles that are available online have links, and are only available to current PTS students, faculty, and staff. Articles without links are in the print journal collection.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra interview
May 25,2021

Wide Open Window:
Deanna Witkowski Trio at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
July 25, 2021

Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies
Celebrating the Legacy of Mary Lou Williams, 'Mother of Bebop' -
February 11, 2020


Other Links