The Essential Conversation: WDET’s Ann Delisi with Photographer Leni Sinclair (Part 3)

Detroit photographer, cultural activist and 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist Leni Sinclair tells her story


“I would never want to move away from Detroit again… I belong to Detroit and Detroit belongs to me.”-Leni Sinclair

In June, Leni Sinclair sat down with WDET’s Ann Delisi at the Kresge Foundation to talk about her life.  From her escape as a teenager from East Germany (with little more than a camera) to her front-row seat at the counter-culture movement in Detroit’s Cass Corridor in the late 60s, Sinclair shares her memories with Ann Delisi in a series of radio segments. (Listen to Part 2 by clicking above.)

Detroit photographer and cultural activist Leni Sinclair is the 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist. Sinclair documented the counterculture movement in Detroit from the mid-1960s through the 1970s through vivid and dramatic photography. She may be best known for capturing the raucous rock n’ roll scene of that era, including photographs of the MC5, rock legends Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and jazz icons such as Miles Davis. Focusing her lens on musicians and fellow activists from nightclubs to festivals to street demonstrations, Sinclair captured a pivotal era in American history when art and politics intertwined. Some of her photos – including shots of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and of Nigeria’s rebel music star Fela Kuti – are among the most widely recognized of their subjects. 



  • Ann Delisi
    Ann Delisi hosts Essential Music, the Essential Conversations podcast series and the Essential Cooking broadcast and podcast. Born and raised in the Motor City, Ann is a broadcaster, interviewer, producer, music host, storyteller and proud Detroiter.