This summer, multi-GRAMMY-nominated duo The War and Treaty will headline the 2024 Levitt National Tour, performing their sonic blend of blues, gospel, soul, bluegrass, and country for Levitt audiences across the country. Formed by husband and wife team Tanya and Michael Trotter, the band will play at Levitt Pavilion Arlington (Friday, June 21); Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks (Friday, July 26); Levitt Shell Sioux Falls (Friday, Aug. 9); Levitt Pavilion Dayton (Saturday, Aug. 24); and Levitt Pavilion Denver (Friday, Sept. 13). As with all Levitt concerts, each show will be completely free, all ages, and open to the public. Recently, we had a chat with the Trotters to discuss the inspiration behind their music, the changing face of country/roots music, and what fans can expect during this summer’s Tour. Read on to learn more!

“The fabric of our relationship”

The War and Treaty writes songs that are stories of the heart and human connection—exploring themes of love, loss, commitment, and conflict—many of which are informed by the Trotters’ lived experiences, such as Michael’s tour of duty in Iraq. In fact, the Trotters were life partners long before they were creative partners (a timeline that Tanya notes surprises many): love, marriage, and a little Trotter came first, then, at last, the music.

Their latest album, Lover’s Game, is a critically acclaimed Southern soul record and an expression of Michael and Tanya’s vow to spread love through music. Taking listeners on a winding journey of love through its changing seasons and circumstances, Lover’s Game also features the duo’s GRAMMY-nominated song, “Blank Page,” a lyrical masterpiece with lines like, “You’re a blank page / Oh, no lines or margins in-between / But somehow your love, I can clearly see.”

“It took us about three years before we started singing together, and it’s been a wonderful journey from there,” Tanya explains to the Levitt Foundation. “Our music is the fabric of our relationship—whatever we’re feeling that day: if we want to be supper sappy, then we put on a classical song or R&B song. If we want to sit on the porch or go for a drive, we put on some country or folk. We incorporate the different sounds [reflecting] our relationship into all of our shows.”

From their home in Nashville, Tennessee, Tanya and Michael Trotter Jr. of The War and Treaty enthusiastically discuss their upcoming Levitt National Tour performances via a Zoom video call.

Indeed, The War and Treaty has enjoyed quite the adventure since the couple’s musical debut as Trotter & Blount (the latter being Tanya’s maiden name) in 2016, with the release of their first album, Love Affair. Since then, they’ve released three albums and two EPs—each embodying the band’s warm, cross-genre blend of country, soul, blues, folk, gospel, and bluegrass—all chapters of a lionhearted sonic catalog that has not only warmed listeners’ hearts but has won critics’ hearts, too.

In 2023, the band was nominated for the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music’s respective “Duo of the Year” awards, breaking history as the first Black nominees of both. The Trotters also recently earned two GRAMMY nominations—one for their 2023 song “Blank Page,” which received a nod in the Best American Roots Song category, and another under the prestigious Best New Artist category. Additionally, over the last eight years as The War and Treaty, Tanya and Michael’s expressive vocals have appeared on a variety of their Americana and country peers’ track listings (including Zach Bryan, Wilder Woods, and Brothers Osborne)—not to mention they’ve shared stages across the globe with living legends and celebrated artists like Al Green, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, and Van Morrison.

Uplifting, uniting, and bringing joy to people

The Trotters aren’t strangers to Levitt stages—back in 2018 and 2019, they mesmerized Levitt Shell Memphis (now Overton Park Shell) and Levitt SteelStacks audiences with their commanding presence, defined by Tanya’s soaring twang, Michael’s effortless piano prowess, and the couple’s full-bodied harmonies, all bolstered by an equally expressive full supporting band.

Audiences that catch The War and Treaty live on the Levitt National Tour this summer can certainly expect to be dazzled by the Trotters’ live renditions of songs from Lover’s Game—but their set will also include older hits, along with a few surprises. “As performers, seeing the crowd’s reactions to certain songs is most exciting,” Tanya says. “What I love most is watching the connection and seeing people sing along to songs that are deep down on a tracklist of an album we released four years ago. It makes us go, wow, they know this song? It’s great.”

The duo has remained steadfast in their conviction that one of the most inspiring aspects of being musical artists is uplifting, uniting, and bringing joy to people through music. “[The best part of playing at Levitt venues] is seeing people sit down at first—then, after a little while, they end up in front of the stage, dancing and having themselves a good ole’ time, a good ole’ party,” Michael says. “That’s what we’re looking forward to most about these upcoming shows.”

Providing free outdoor concerts to the community deeply resonates with the Trotters, who are now parents to four and share a fundamental belief that people of all walks of life deserve opportunities to relish joyful, live music experiences. “As entertainers, you have to keep your eye on the person who’s going to work at Walmart or the Dollar Tree every day, the person who can’t afford a $100 ticket to your show—and the money they might use to buy a ticket, that’s a day of pay,” Tanya reflects. “What they’re paying to see a show may very well be the difference in them putting gas in their car. We’ve been there ourselves.”

Tanya says she’s viewed music as a universal language since she was a child growing up in metro Washington, D.C., and having ancestral ties to Latin America.

“My mother is from Panama, and she would put on records in Portuguese, French, or Spanish when I was a child. I didn’t understand what they were talking about, but when that music came on, and the beat hit me—or I heard the guitar line or the horns—I felt like I was a part of it,” Tanya recalls. “When my siblings, cousins and I would get together with the Spanish-speaking side of our family, we didn’t speak the language. But with music, we could all dance around together, laugh and create memories. Music has a way of doing that, whether you understand what’s being said or not.”

The changing face of country

While music helps us to celebrate our shared humanity, the music industry—in particular the country and roots music space—has, throughout history, privileged white voices; as such, Black musicians (along with their Black fans) have been historically ostracized since the genre’s establishment in the early 20th century. However, in recent years, there’s been a push to combat racism and racial inequality within the country world, along with growing conversations emphasizing the unsung Black history of genres like country, which Black American musicians played a major role in creating and shaping. Long before these subject matters entered the mainstream, Black artists pushed to the margins were already forging their own paths despite the pervasive challenges of racism—fostering communities with both their Black peers and non-Black ones who lead with inclusivity.

From June to September, Levitt National Tour artist The War and Treaty will perform a lionhearted blend of country, soul, bluegrass, and gospel at five Levitt venues.

“When you look at the country genre, not a lot of folks look like us,” Tanya says. “The same goes for roots. So we’ve created communities within these spaces—and it doesn’t always look one way. We want to be able to collaborate with our [Black] brothers and sisters, but we’re also very conscious of when we have an opportunity to work with artists who don’t look like us. When we talk about building community through music, we like to think, ‘Here’s where I can make a difference.’ So through our work, that’s what we try to do—and we’re fortunate and blessed enough to have other artists do the same thing for us.”

Pursuing their artistry in “Music City” has helped the couple find like-minded country entertainers as well. “Nashville has opened us up to community,” Michael explains, noting that impactful country artists like Dierks Bentley, Zach Bryan (with whom they share a platinum hit, “Hey Driver,” from Bryan’s self-titled 2023 album), Miranda Lambert, and others have actively sought out the Trotters to connect with on stage, in the studio, or behind the scenes.

As for fellow Black artists The War and Treaty are in community with, Tanya and Michael hardly hesitate to shoutout those who have long been blazing a trail for themselves and future generations of Black country musicians: Chapel Heart, Mickey Guyton, Breland, Kane Brown, Darius Rucker, Brittany Spencer, Rissi Palmer, Frankie Staton—the list of amazing Black country artists goes on.

A national Tour to remember

When it comes to experiencing a War and Treaty concert, one thing is guaranteed: A good time, no matter the kind of music you listen to. Tanya says with a laugh, “We never put a title to the kind of music we make. But I heard a guy say something like, ‘When you watch The War and Treaty perform, they give you the whole experience of music.’”

The Levitt Foundation is incredibly honored to present The War and Treaty as the headliners of the 2024 Levitt National Tour, and we can’t wait for audiences across the country to enjoy the “whole experience of music’” in community this summer!

Check out the 2024 Levitt National Tour schedule here and stay tuned for more content from the Levitt National Tour featuring The War and Treaty. We’ll see you on the lawn!