In the mid-2000s, while stationed as a soldier in Iraq, Michael Trotter began playing a piano that somehow had survived in what was left of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, where Michael was stationed. A captain heard and encouraged him to pursue music.
After that captain was killed, Michael began to write. His superiors charged him with playing and singing tributes to fallen soldiers, according to the band’s website. This was Michael’s first experience in providing comfort through music.
After Michael’s time in Iraq, he met fellow musician Tanya Blount at a festival where they both were playing. They exchanged numbers, but Michael was hesitant to call. Luckily, Tanya wasn’t. Now, Michael and Tanya Trotter are married. They’ve released music together as The War and Treaty since 2017.
They are two confident performers who belt out honest, love-filled lyrics with a southern, soulful feel. Their ability to work together makes the band even stronger.
“Tanya follows me on the stage. I follow her in life, and that’s how this works,” Michael says. “We’ve learned to play to each other’s strengths, and we’ve learned that when we do that, we don’t see any weaknesses.”
The goal is to provide relief and hope for their listeners, Michael says. The War and Treaty’s second album, Healing Tide, taps into raw emotion and stays true to Michael’s roots. “If It’s in Your Heart,” pays tribute to a friend of Michael’s who died by suicide after experiencing sexual trauma while in the military, according to a press release from the band’s publicist.
Michael says honesty and perspective are part of The War and Treaty’s healing mission.
“I think the key to that is putting yourself last, being reminded that there are people out there with real issues and real struggles, and they’re coming to get real relief,” Michael says. “That’s what’s so beautiful about being an artist. You really get a chance to touch people.”
The War and Treaty also relishes in the new adventures they have while making music. One of Healing Tide’s tracks, “Here is Where the Loving is At,” features Emmylou Harris, who performed at Roots N Blues in 2017. Michael says that they were recording music on his birthday when Harris showed up during their lunch break.
“This lady dressed down in a jumpsuit, hair pulled back, sun shades on, comes walking up my buddy’s porch with a batch of homemade brownies,” he says. “She was so relaxed I didn’t know who she was, you know. Relaxed, just chill. She opened her mouth and said, ‘Michael, I made these for your birthday,’ and I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s Emmylou Harris.’”
The band will release a new album in 2020 and bring new messages to the table. “We’re not holding anything back,” Michael says.