photo credit: David McClister
Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount make up the dynamic duo known as The War And Treaty. Hailing from Albion, Michigan, The War And Treaty makes music inspired by country, soul, blues, and folk with gut-wrenching lyrics and enticing melodies representing the ups and downs of inner and external conflict and resolution. In September 2020, the duo released their sophomore album Hearts Town featuring hit singles “Five More Minutes,” “We Are One,” and “Jealousy/Hustlin’.”
It Was Love At First Sight
Michael + Tonya’s love story is straight out of a movie, with the couple meeting at a love festival in Laurel, Maryland in 2010. As Tanya wanders around the festival, she comes across a stage with 2 performers, an old rock guitarist, and Michael, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter. “I fell in love with him from the moment I saw him on stage,” says Tanya. Michael and his stage partner played their set with great confidence and energy as if there were thousands of people in the audience when in reality, there was really only Tanya. When he finished his set, Tanya immediately found Michael, introduced herself, and bought 5 CDs to hand out to others throughout the festival who needed to hear how amazing Michael was. From that moment on, love was in the air for the couple and then the real work began.
The couple moved to Nashville to connect with the country roots of Music City, but when they got here, they found that there was no reason for them to leave. “Nashville was a musical move that turned into a move for our lives,” says Michael. Nashville presented Michael and Tanya with an opportunity to sharpen skills that their small town in Michigan couldn’t provide. They describe Nashville as a “Music Mecca” where diverse groups of people commune in the city to make serious music that matters.
Music That Matters
Michael + Tanya’s sound can be described as soulful and conscious with deep roots in country and gospel music. The sound came naturally to the duo, as they were simply reflecting on the events of their lives. However, Michael notes that “once we made the decision to be intentional about it, we made it clear that it was always our intention to make music that mattered to us first.” Michael + Tanya aim to reflect cultural music that matters. They place value in the music that has been regulated to the background by the industry.
“Non-African Americans love jazz, they love gospel music, they love country and folk but it seems like they only love it coming from them and from us in the form of a background singer. You see a lot of artists with African American background singers because they want the power of the voice and not the power of the life experience.” Michael + Tanya see these artists being pushed to the background of the styles they have proclaimed in their purest form not only by the industry but also by consumers. The War And Treaty was born out of a desire to change this trend.
Preserving Their Roots
The inspiration behind The War And Treaty comes from Michael + Tanya’s need to preserve their roots. “We are preserving the blood, sweat, tears, and joys of those who came before us,” says Tanya, as she reflects on the commercialization of African-American pain in the industry today. It is important that listeners be reminded of the joyful moments as well. Living by the motto of “I thrive, I win, I overcome,” they hope that when others hear the music, they understand the influence of greats like Nina Simone and Nat King Cole and are reminded of why they fell in love with soul music. Michael + Tanya also hope that their music as The War And Treaty sends the message of understanding. As Tanya shares, “our music can unite a broken race. Not just the Black or white race, but the human race.”
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