Spotlight on Bluegrass; Part 3. The War & Treaty

 Michael Trotter Jr.  and Tanya Blount-Trotter

Michael Trotter Jr.  and Tanya Blount-Trotter

On Sunday, morning festivarians will awake and stumble their way to the main stage in Town Park. Some will be nursing their hangovers, but those who wake up in time will have the opportunity to nurse their souls as well. The War & Treaty perform in the traditional gospel hour of Bluegrass and it is not to be missed. The Michigan based duo of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter follow in the footsteps of John and June, Dave and Gillian and Ike and Tina. The chemistry they bring to songwriting and performing has its roots in overcoming personal struggle, finding love and creating music that inspires and speaks to the enduring human spirit.

Blount found music early on, growing up in a tight-knit family outside of Washington D.C. Her career before meeting Trotter is impressive with collaborations with Lauryn Hill, a nomination for best new artist at the 1996 Soul Train Awards, appearances on the U.S. Top 100 chart and signing to Sean Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment label. She was included in the label's first gospel record alongside the Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, Brandy, Carl Thomas, John P. Kee, Brian McKnight and Boyz II Men.

Trotter’s path to music and songwriting is markedly different. Also from Washington D.C., Trotter's family moved between homeless shelters throughout his childhood and he would continue to struggle into adulthood. The birth of his daughter at age 19 was a turning point in his life. It was for his daughter that he joined the army in 2003. Just two years after 9/11, Trotter was unaware that the U.S. was currently engaged in war in the Middle East.

“People say, ‘How do you not know that?’ Well, in the neighborhood I grew up in, we weren’t patriotic. No one cared––that’s rich people’s news. Meanwhile, someone I know just got shot yesterday.”

Trotter was sent to Iraq and stationed in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. As if by fate, a piano was left unscathed in the rumble of the palace. Trotter played and his talents were quickly noticed by one of his officers who encouraged him to pursue music. When the same officer was killed, Trotter sat down and wrote, for the first time, a tribute to his fallen friend. Trotter was asked to do the same for other fallen soldiers- a heavy task but one that he rose to with grace.

Trotter booked a festival when he returned home, where his song writing grabbed Blount’s attention. The two have been inseparable since.

On August 10, 2018 their first full-length album, Healing Tide, will be released. Produced by the renowned Nashville guitarist and producer, Buddy Miller, Healing Tide also features Emmylou Harris on the track “Here Is Where the Loving Is At.” The album is a culmination of sorts, of the couple’s journeys in life and music.


“You have to have a deep place of love within yourself to be vulnerable,” Tanya says. “With The War and Treaty, we allow people to see two people that are not perfect. We get on stage. We sweat. We’re overweight. We yell. We get ugly, we scream! My hair comes loose. We’re vulnerable––naked––in front of people, and it’s a chain reaction. It allows them to be vulnerable, too.”

The War & Treaty performs from 10:45 to 11:45 AM Sunday, June 24th on the Town Park Main Stage.

Heidi Sarazen