The War and Treaty Angry and Sad After Finding Cotton Plant in Texas Dressing Room

The War and Treaty Angry and Sad After Finding Cotton Plant in Texas Dressing Room

The War and Treaty, the acclaimed Americana-country duo composed of husband and wife Michael and Tanya Trotter, recently faced a distressing incident at the Coca-Cola Sips & Sounds Music Festival in Austin, Texas. The couple discovered a cotton plant in their dressing room, a symbol with deep and painful historical connotations for African Americans.

Michael Trotter Jr. expressed his immediate reaction to The Hollywood Reporter, stating, “There was a cotton plant in our dressing room. We all know what that means. We all know what that represents in this country to people that look like us.” The presence of the cotton plant evoked a mix of anger, disrespect, and sadness for Michael, who has served honorably in the United States Army. He felt a profound sense of betrayal, noting that such experiences are not something white artists typically have to worry about.

Despite the unsettling discovery, The War and Treaty went on to perform on the main stage. However, the incident prompted a heartfelt conversation with their 12-year-old son, Legend, who urged his parents not to remain silent about the matter. Legend, who is homeschooled, understood the significance of the cotton plant and its historical context without his parents having to explain it to him.

The War and Treaty have made significant strides in the music industry, releasing their major-label debut, “Lover’s Game,” to critical acclaim and making history at the 2023 CMA and ACM Awards as the first Black performers to be nominated for duo of the year at both shows. They also achieved a Top 15 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Hey Driver,” a collaboration with Zach Bryan. This year, they earned two Grammy nominations, including best new artist, and performed during the In Memoriam segment at the Primetime Emmy Awards. They are also set to open for The Rolling Stones at SoFi Stadium in July.

Tanya Trotter, the granddaughter of a sharecropper, found the incident particularly painful. Her grandfather had bought the plantation where he once picked cotton in New Bern, North Carolina, and her family still resides there. Tanya emphasized that the presence of the cotton plant was not just about racism but also a broader safety issue. She stressed the importance of creating a safe environment for people of color at music festivals and other public events.

A representative for the Sips & Sounds Music Festival did not immediately respond to The Hollywood Reporter’s request for comment. Michael Trotter Jr. reiterated his feelings of betrayal, stating, “My skin color is red, white, and blue — the flag. I’m an American soldier. That is what this country called upon when it asked me to serve, so I feel betrayed.” He emphasized that the issue is not just about safety but also about humanity, as he felt compelled to protect his family and band members.

The War and Treaty have been active in the country and Americana music scene since 2014, performing at the Grand Ole Opry and participating in major award presentations. They signed with UMG Nashville in 2022 and are regularly booked at major country music festivals. Despite their success, the duo has faced challenges and adversity in the industry.

The Coca-Cola Sips & Sounds Music Festival, promoted by a major American brand, aimed to present a racially diverse lineup, including headliners Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini, as well as Black performers like The War and Treaty and Devon Gillfilian. The festival’s intention was to connect with consumers and promote a corporate DEI-based perspective on country music.

The incident with the cotton plant raises questions about whether it was an intentional act of racism or a misunderstanding. Regardless, the experience has left The War and Treaty rattled and disturbed. The seriousness of the accusation warrants a thorough investigation to determine how the cotton plant ended up in their dressing room and to prevent similar situations in the future.

The War and Treaty have been embraced by the country music industry, performing on major stages and receiving numerous accolades. However, the incident at the Sips & Sounds Music Festival highlights the ongoing challenges and issues of racism that still exist within the genre.

As the investigation continues, it is crucial to address the concerns raised by The War and Treaty and ensure that music festivals and other public events provide a safe and inclusive environment for all performers and attendees, regardless of their race or background.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Us Weekly, Saving Country Music

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