Deanna Witkowski's talents as a piano player, composer, and arranger are on abundant display on Wide Open Window, the jazz pianist's second effort. Window has it all: intricate melodies, inventive arrangements, and evidence of her deep-flowing faith. She adds her own flair to classics, including Rodgers and Hammerstein's "A Wonderful Guy," and "Sanctus," which she wrote while serving as music director for All Angels' Episcopal Church on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Khaeon World Music.
A Bitter Crop
"Southern trees bear a strange fruit/ blood on the leaves and blood at the root" begins "Strange Fruit," the chilling song made famous by singer Billie Holiday. A fascinating hour-long documentary by the same name explores the song's journey from its unlikely origin as a poem penned by a Jewish schoolteacher, Abel Meeropol, to its use as a protest anthem during the anti-lynching movement of the 1940s, the civil rights movement, and racial oppression today. "Until the last racist is dead," Meeropol's son says, "Strange Fruit' is still relevant." Airs April 8 on PBS.
A former president of the Methodist Church of South Africa, Peter Storey experienced far more than his share of heartbreak and horror during the violence of apartheid. With God in the Crucible: Preaching Costly Discipleship is a collection of his sermons and addresses during his 13 years as bishop in Johannesburgwords burnished "from the midst of this furnace," writes Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in the foreword. A ruthless examination of the gospel. Abingdon Press.
Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter, a new anthology from Plough Publishing, is chock full of intimate, challenging readings and reflections for the season. Contributors include Jane Kenyon, Wendell Berry, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Paul Tillich, and Edith Stein, among others, who write on temptation, crucifixion, resurrection, and new life. A wonderful companion for this season of preparation and celebration.