© 2024 WKNO FM
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Summer Music Preview: 'The War And Treaty' Debuts 'Healing Tide'


If you are planning to see any live music this summer, we are told that our next guests are the ones to see.


THE WAR AND TREATY: (Singing) I can fly to New Orleans.

MARTIN: This is The War and Treaty. They are the husband-and-wife team Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount Trotter. Billboard has named them 1 of the 10 bands you need to know about for this year's festival season.


THE WAR AND TREATY: (Singing) All I want to do is be with you, and I don't know how, but when I'm with you we can count on the world for a day or two. Everything I do you know I do it for you.

MARTIN: The War and Treaty's debut album comes out in early August. It's called "Healing Tide." But, since you might be planning your summer music schedule right now, we thought it would be nice to give a sneak preview of what you can expect. And Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount Trotter are with us now from Spotland Productions in Nashville, Tenn. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

MICHAEL TROTTER JR.: Hello (laughter).

TANYA BLOUNT TROTTER: Hello. Thank you for having us.

MARTIN: We have so much to talk about. I mean, gosh, your individual stories are interesting, the music you make is so interesting. So I think I'll just start by asking each of you how you fell in love with music. And, Ms. Tanya, why don't you start?

BLOUNT TROTTER: Well, I fell in love with music in Washington, D.C. - that's where I'm from - at a little church on a hill on 50th and B Street, Southeast Washington, D.C. And my brother was singing a song called "Be Grateful," and I remember sitting in the pew and watching the people around the church just in uproar - just with excitement and crying and excited. And I said to myself, I want to make people feel like that.

MARTIN: Well, Mr. Michael, what about you? How did you - when did you fall in love with music?

TROTTER: When I was about 2 or 3 years old, I remember hearing my mom sing first. And her voice and the passion in - behind how she was singing - I just wanted to do that.

MARTIN: All right. Well, listen - let's listen to the title track from the album. This is "Healing Tide."


THE WAR AND TREATY: (Singing) What if I told you you'd be better off the second time around? What if I told you not all that goes up will come down?

MARTIN: That sounds kind of like a message. You've got to tell me about it.

TROTTER: "Healing Tide" - I mean, with all the stuff that's going on and that has been going on in our world, Tanya and I, we really searched ourselves to see what kind of message we wanted to put out there with our first record. And, being an ex-soldier - someone who is totally enthralled with this country and with people, period - we wanted to make sure that everyone understood that we're all one and the same, and we can really have a tide of healing. And if it - if there was going to come a healing wave that was going to wash over our world, would you want to be a part of that?


THE WAR AND TREATY: (Singing) What if I gave you my heart from the start of your world? Would you let me be your boy? Would you be a part of the healing tide?

MARTIN: Let me just reinforce what you just said. You are a veteran - and, if I may, thank you for your service.

TROTTER: Thank you.

MARTIN: I read that you actually learned to write songs while you were stationed in Iraq. And, in fact, there was a very - actually very moving story about you learning to play the piano while you were in Iraq, actually on Saddam Hussein's piano and what all that, you know meant to you. Could you just briefly tell us that story?

TROTTER: Sure. My battalion identified me - out of 980-plus soldiers, they identified me as the weak link due to my visible fear of being in Iraq and being at war. But they knew some personal information. They knew that I loved music, and one of the captains decided to take me downstairs in the palace, where we were staying, and showed me that there was a piano there. And I didn't know how to play, but I could hear harmonies, and I would go over to that piano throughout the course of being in Iraq, and I would try to learn how to play.

But it wasn't until that captain got killed where that emotional connection that I needed to connect with that instrument unlocked. And I wrote my first song about that whole situation, and I performed it at his memorial in Iraq. And my colonel, Peter L. Jones, and my general at the time - they identified something miraculous that took place. The soldiers, instead of becoming overwhelmed with grief, really became overwhelmed with joy and honor of being able to say, I served next to that fallen soldier. And they then took me and said that would be my job for 2004 all throughout 2007, and I'd sing it at the memorials throughout Iraq.

MARTIN: Wow. Well, I mean, on the one hand, it's a very moving story and, you know, beautiful that this captain saw this in you and that your - the other officer saw that in you. On the other hand, how hard that must have been for you.


MARTIN: Is it still hard or...

TROTTER: It's very tough.


TROTTER: It's hard because you have to suppress yourself sometimes, you know. And sometimes, I had a very strong connection, personal connection with these soldiers. Then, other times, the connection was just being an American or just being a soldier. But then it becomes rewarding when you see the morale of the soldiers boost up. And it wasn't about selling records. It wasn't about copyrights. It was literally about writing healing into the story, and that's rewarding for me.

MARTIN: Tell me about the name of your group - The War and Treaty. I mean, it has different resonance now that we know that kind of back story. So where does the name of the group come from?

BLOUNT TROTTER: Well, we were having an argument (laughter). We had changed our name, like, nine times, and we were just going back and forth. And, right in the middle of an argument, you know, I said, look, Michael. This is not a war. We - it just has to be a treaty. We just have to just get some peace here.

TROTTER: That's the name of the band.

BLOUNT TROTTER: And he stopped and said just that.

TROTTER: (Laughter).

BLOUNT TROTTER: He was, like, that's the name of the band. And I'm, like, trying to make my point. And he's, like, that's - no, that's the name of the band - The War and Treaty. And that's how we got our name (laughter) - derived from an argument.


THE WAR AND TREATY: (Singing) Love is all down to the water. Love burning like a wildfire, we're going to love like there's no tomorrow. Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: Tanya, I feel I have to mention that you were in a 1993 movie - "Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit" with Whoopi Goldberg - and, in the film, you sing a gospel hymn with Lauryn Hill. We have to...


MARTIN: ...Play it. Here it is.


LAURYN HILL AND TANYA BLOUNT TROTTER: (As Rita Watson and Tanya, singing) I sing because I'm happy. And I sing because I'm free.

MARTIN: Wow. That was just amazing. Tanya, that was a - was that a good experience?

BLOUNT TROTTER: It still brings me to tears. I mean, we were so young, and we were so pure. It's a great moment.

MARTIN: What is it that's making you cry even now?

BLOUNT TROTTER: You know, we were just doing music - the same reason why I do music now - because we loved it. And, you know, 20 years later, I'm able to be on NPR, you know, and that song still matters. That's why we do music - for it to matter.


BLOUNT TROTTER: And it brings me to tears that it still matters.


THE WAR AND TREATY: (Singing) If it's in your heart to be something more...

MARTIN: That's Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount Trotter. They are The War and Treaty. Their debut album, "Healing Tide," comes out in August, but they are currently on tour.

Thank you both so much for speaking with us.

TROTTER: Thank you.

BLOUNT TROTTER: Thank you so much.


THE WAR AND TREATY: (Singing) If it's in your heart to be in love again, and I walk away... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.