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The Catholic Culture Podcast

A weekly podcast hosted by musician and writer Thomas V. Mirus, exploring everything Catholic, with a special focus on arts and culture. Dedicated to the Holy Family. An extension of

Dec 9, 2021

Mary Lou Williams: one of the outstanding jazz pianists of all time, composer, Catholic convert, visionary, performer of works of mercy.

Because Williams's career lasted and her style adapted through many changes in jazz from the swing era to the early 1970s, and because she mentored two of jazz's most influential figures (Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk), this episode is an opportunity not only to dive into her life and music, but to learn a little about jazz history more generally.

Deanna Witkowski, herself a jazz pianist and Catholic convert, has written a new biography of Williams, Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul, and performs Williams's compositions on her forthcoming album, Force of Nature.

Watch discussion on YouTube:


Buy Deanna's book and album:

Musical tracks heard in this episode:

Mary Lou Williams: "Waltz Boogie", "Walkin' and Swingin'", "Night Life", "Holy Ghost" (composed by Larry Gales), "Autumn Leaves" (composed by Joseph Kosma), "Aries", "Taurus", "Virgo", "Anima Christi", "St. Martin de Porres".

Excerpts from Bud Powell, "Cherokee" (composed by Ray Noble); Thelonious Monk "Monk's Dream"; Elmo Hope, "Eejah".

Deanna Witkowski, "Intermission", composed by Mary Lou Williams and Milton Suggs, used with permission. From Deanna Witkowski's album Force of Nature. 

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