A little over a decade ago, Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount were two struggling R&B artists based in the D.C. area. Blount, who grew up Prince George’s County, had scored early success in the ’90s, notching a few hits on the R&B chart while also giving a scene-stealing performance next to Lauryn Hill in the 1993 blockbuster Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. he was looking to make a comeback after years lost in the shuffle as an artist on Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records.
U.S. Army veteran Trotter, meanwhile, was compelled to make music as a way to honor fellow service members who died brutal deaths, a pursuit further bolstered by his winning of a “Military Idol” music competition while stationed in Germany.
They met as performers booked at the same Maryland music festival in the summer of 2010 and joined forces, romantically and musically. Currently known as The War and Treaty, the harmonizing, power-piped duo strikes a searing pose as unflinchingly honest and intensely passionate, battle-scarred lovers and comrades-in-arms, whose music is both intensely dramatic and refreshingly cathartic.
Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls heaped praise on the duo in a Rolling Stone profile published last year. “Their music is a joyful force,” Saliers said. “We can talk about their voices, but it’s really their whole gestalt, their passion. They have a kinetic energy between them that resonates.”
In July of 2018, the War and Treaty opened for the Indigo Girls at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. Three years later, the duo returns to the outdoor amphitheater as headliners, barely a month after the venue reopened for the first time since the pandemic.
The concert comes in support of Hearts Town, the group’s second album, which expands on the bluesy, roots-oriented rock and soul sound that has propelled the duo, featuring songs embellished with stylings drawn from disco (“Jealousy”), classic rock (“Beautiful”), and classic/Tin Pan Alley pop (“Hey Pretty Moon”).
The album’s title stems from the nickname given to the duo’s devoted fanbase, a community, Trotter says in an official release, “where we encourage one another and pick each other up, and we feed the hungry and we clothe the naked. Hearts Town is a place where you can come broken and open, regardless of your past, and find love just like we have.”
Thursday, July 29, at 8 p.m. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna. Tickets are $27 to $57. Visit www.wolftrap.org.
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