In 2004, Michael Trotter Jr. found comfort in the sounds of an upright piano abandoned in a basement.
Neglected instruments have long served as inspiration for budding musicians—but this was the piano of Saddam Hussein, and beyond the solace of the piano loomed the thick of war.
Encamped in one of Hussein’s private palaces, the young soldier struck the keys and began to sing. When his supportive captain was killed, Trotter wrote his first song and performed it at the memorial. It was then that the Michigan native discovered a passion for sharing his vocal gift and supporting others.
When his military tours ended, Trotter’s giving spirit didn’t stop—and when he met vocalist Tanya Blount, he found a partner in music, life, and service.
“Service is the greatest thing ever known to man—when you can serve another brother or sister,” Trotter explains. “When I came out of the military, I was struggling simply because I didn’t know who would allow me to serve them. Once I learned my service can continue, my wife and I are literally serving our world through music.”
Inspired by the country and gospel music of their youths as well as show tunes and film scores (Trotter’s a huge fan of the overtures in The Ten Commandments), the couple formed The War & Treaty. Their soul-shaking vocals and palpable chemistry paved the way for a standout 2018, including a tour with Valerie June and spots at Bonnaroo and Newport Folk Festival.
In March, they’ll record their first album.
“We look at the three aspects of existence: life, love and loss,” says Blount. “Those are the three things that impact existence, and The War & Treaty are touching on many different points in our nation, trying to survive in life and sustain the love we have for one another, impact laws, change laws, establish some laws.”
“Finding ways to really touch people is what we’re looking to do,” Trotter adds. “This is what I want to do with my life—serve our country, serve the world. That is always the main idea.”