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The War and Treaty – artists to know (United States of Americana from The Current)

February 12, 2020


This week, our artists to know are the Nashville-based
duo The War and Treaty. These two have a story as incredible as their
voices, and it’s a pleasure to spotlight them any time of year as well as now, during Black
History Month. The War and Treaty are Michael Trotter, Jr.,
and Tanya Blount-Trotter. Each of them is an outstanding musician in their own right,
but they were married for three years before their friend heard them singing with each
other and encouraged the couple to perform together. Both Michael and Tanya are lifelong music
lovers, and Tanya has been a performer most of her life. In fact, when Tanya was a teenager,
she had a role in the film “Sister Act II”, and she and Lauryn Hill performed a duet in
that film. Michael’s path to being a professional musician
was a bit more winding. As a teen, Michael says he wanted to be a rapper, so worked on
writing rhymes and raps. After high school, Michael enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was
deployed to Iraq. It was there — unexpectedly — that his love of piano and of songwriting
took hold. Here’s what Michael told me when The War and Treaty visited our studio in 2018: MICHAEL TROTTER: It was the highlight of my
life to be able to serve our country alongside the finest men and women. And I actually started
my songwriting processes over there, learning how to write songs, not just about myself
and my experiences, but the experiences of others and that sort of thing. And that kind
of songwriting actually took me away from one job to another job: from serving our country
on the front lines, on an infantry unit, to serving the soldiers with a special dose of
melodic healing. BILL DeVILLE: After the army, Michael sang
in churches, and he continued to get bigger gigs until he and Tanya met at a music festival
in 2010. From there, the pair were, as they told me, “inseparable.” THE WAR AND TREATY:
I can be a good woman to ya Day and night Are you ready to love me, baby? Are you ready to love me, baby? Are you ready to love me, baby? Hey, hey – yeah! BILL: The War and Treaty’s first album, “Healing
Tide,” echoed the couple’s belief that music is indeed healing, whether it’s dealing with
things like PTSD, with which Michael has first-hand experience, or with other things like poverty
and homelessness, or racism and other forms of oppression. This idea supports The War and Treaty’s positive
spirit, and their desire to help bring healing and solve problems. As the duo told the New
England folk-and-roots music publication “Red Line Roots” in 2018: “The problem is not people pointing out problems;
the problem is people seeing people as the problem, and not the problem as the problem. “Problems don’t create themselves. And problems
are created by the same people who create the solutions: us. “Yes, it is fun and righteous to have that
sort of indignation and to say these are the problems that we face, but the key word there
is ‘we.'” The album “Healing Tide,” brought The War
and Treaty much acclaim, and they impressed thousands of people when they performed at
the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards, taking an expanded slot when Buddy Miller
was unable to perform. I was there, and the War and Treaty were awesome! The crowd thought
it was amazing! Since then, The War and Treaty have continued
to rise. They’ve were named 2019 Emerging Act of the Year by the Americana Music Association,
and they’ve been signed to Rounder Records. They spent much of last year touring with
people like Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell, and on January 24, The War and Treaty released
a single, “Hustlin”” backed with “Jealousy.” They’re getting ready to release a full-length
sophomore album later this year. The War and Treaty are still a young band,
and their chapter is certainly among the new ones in music history, Black History and American
History. They’ve got a big future ahead of them, and I can’t wait to see what they do
next. I’ll feature music by The War and Treaty on
my show, United States of Americana, heard Sundays from 8 to 10 a.m. Central on The Current.

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