Music

The War and Treaty's Journey From 'Sister Act 2' and Iraq to Americana Prominence

AP Photo/Wade Payne

Since the 2014 release of Love Affair (as Trotter & Blount), husband and wife duo Tanya Blount-Trotter and Michael Trotter Jr. have served up an Americana survey of Southern soul, gospel and R&B sounds as The War and Treaty.

Whether they're collaborating with songwriting giants (see Emmylou Harris collaboration ""Here Is Where the Loving Is At" and Jason Isbell team-up "Beautiful") or flooring music festival crowds, the Trotter family is consistently winning over new fans.

Both members of the Albion, Michigan-based group have incredible backstories that prepared them for 2017 EP Down to the River and the Buddy Miller-produced albums Healing Tide (2018) and Hearts Town (a 2020 release by Rounder Records).

Tanya's big break came in the 1993 film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. That's her singing "His Eye is on the Sparrow" with Lauryn Hill. A big-label R&B deal followed for the former Tanya Blount, as did a stint with Sean Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment.

Tanya's brush with Hollywood stardom was special to Michael long before he met and fell in love with his future wife.

"The most influential moment for me in music -- which helped me get over one of the first tough humps in my life -- my mother and I were living in a homeless shelter," he told BMI. "We were trying to find some peace, and there was this movie we used to love watching in '96: Sister Act 2, which Tanya was in when she was 19 years old. She sang, with Lauryn Hill, 'His Eye Is on the Sparrow.' So me and my mom, that was the first song we ever sung together."

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Michael's musical path began in church and took a detour through Iraq. Per Stomp and Stammer, one of Michael's superiors in the military heard him singing while playing a piano that'd survived destruction in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. Soon after, Michael took on the challenging yet cathartic task of writing and performing songs about fallen soldiers.

"I got my songwriting start writing songs about the fallen," Michael told Stomp and Stammer in 2018. "Most of these situations were very difficult to gather myself in. When I started thinking about the healing it could bring my battle buddies and myself, it made it so worth it. Now here I am out of the military but still serving my country and seeing what my country is currently engaged in and going through. Not just my country but our world. It's a privilege to write songs that unify instead of songs that are more selfish."

As for playlist suggestions, check out the pair's real talk about relationships, "Are You Ready to Love Me," and its plea for open-mindedness, "Take Me In."

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The War and Treaty's Journey From 'Sister Act 2' and Iraq to Americana Prominence