Don Was Talks Music of 1967 and Songs of Rebellion

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

Don Was (right) and Ann Delisi (left) join Stephen Henderson (middle) on Detroit Today

As we near the 50th anniversary of the uprising in Detroit in the summer of 1967, we’re reminded that the era produced large and unique movements — both political and social.

One of those movements happened within American art of the time, including music.

This weekend the annual Concert of Colors celebrates its 25th anniversary in Midtown Detroit, and the Don Was All-Star Review will feature “Music of Rebellion” on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Wherever there’s rebellion, there’s great music that follows,” says Was. “I think because music just helps you understand things when conversational language fails.”

Delisi says that era of music is influenced by the fact that self expression was limited compared to the internet age.

This was a time before social media… People have a voice now,” she says. ”At that time, music was by and large the way to reach a lot of people with a message.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Olu Adelabi/WDET

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



This post is a part of Detroit '67: A Reflection.

WDET is reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots with stories and photos from people in the community who lived through this historic event.

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