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Album Review: The War & Treaty “Healing Tide”

Country fans, blues fans, gospel fans, southern rock fans: stop what you’re doing and listen to this album. This is the space on the Venn Diagram where all those genres meet, where you can hear the soul roots of Americana.

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Country fans,  blues fans, gospel fans, southern rock fans: stop what you’re doing and listen to this album. This is the space on the Venn Diagram where all those genres meet, where you can hear the soul roots of Americana.

First, let’s back up about 20something years and revisit this duet in Sister Act 2:

The girl singing with Lauryn Hill is Tanya Blount and she tried to make a go of it in R&B after the movie came out. Unfortunately, though her live performances were praised (because she could really blow, especially for her age), she was saddled with a lot of subpar material and her debut album is largely forgettable. Her singles were decent but you’d be hard-pressed to remember anything about them once the track was over.  Case in point, “Through the Rain” which is perfectly pleasant, and wholly unremarkable:

She kept performing, but for the most part, disappeared and you only heard about her if she popped up in your city performing on a circuit or a festival.

Michael Trotter wrote songs from childhood on as a way to deal with a difficult upbringing in and out of homeless shelters around DC. He enlisted in the army at 21 as a pathway to hopefully providing for his young daughter, and after his captain was killed, he wrote a song in tribute to him. When his comrades heard it, that became his new duty — writing songs in tribute to his fallen brothers in arms whenever one was killed in the line of fire.

Michael kept pursuing music and the future duo’s path’s crossed when he and Tanya were booked for the same festival. The rest led to marriage, a kid, and The War and Treaty.

And y’all — this is the sangin’est married couple I have ever heard. Tanya is truly a gift to music because nobody who listened to her smooth R&B of the 90s would have pictured this much grit and this much rock & roll from her. She sounds like a natural successor to early Tina Turner’s vocal style on a good half of this album, but she’s also perfectly content to take a backseat to Michael who is an actual hurricane. Both of their voices feel like church, but Black men outside of the pulpit don’t really sing like Michael anymore. He sounds much closer to white southern rock artists like Chris Stapleton or Josh Krajcik or Anderson East than any Black male singers — other than preachers and worship leaders. If the Clark Sisters had a man in the group, it would be Michael Trotter, squalls and all.

So on one side you have Tina Turner/CeCe Winans, and on the other side you have Chris Stapleton/Dorinda Clark making music that bridges that gap between blues, country, Southern rock, and gospel. That gap is Soul, and they sing every note with so much of it. Tanya summed it up best herself:

“With The War and Treaty, we allow people to see two people that are not perfect. We get on stage. We sweat. We’re overweight. We yell. We get ugly, we scream! My hair comes loose. We’re vulnerable — naked — in front of people, and it’s a chain reaction. It allows them to be vulnerable too.”

Catch a blessing on today.

This is straight boogie-woogie and I live! “Healing Tide”

A good ol’ southern country blues groove: “Are You Ready To Love Me?”

An hourlong live set at The Kennedy Center because these folks are the real deal and sound exactly the same from a stage:

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Watch: Whitney Houston “Saving All My Love” (1986 Grammys)

Imagine being 23 and already knowing you’re the best in the world at something. What a moment!

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The Emmy Awards were a couple of days ago and I was reminded that Whitney Houston won an actual Emmy for performing a song on the Grammy Awards that she also won a Grammy and an American Music Award for…and when will your fave EVER?!

A couple of things I just learned about this song that I feel the need to share:

  1. It’s a cover! I had no idea, but it was previously recorded as a duet in 1978 by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. One of the songwriters, Michael Masser, heard her sing “The Greatest Love of All” and re-worked his old tune for her album.
  2. Cissy did NOT want her baby singing that song, because they were High Holy Christians and Whitney could not be out there singing about saving her goodies for a married man.
  3. It became Whitney’s first #1 single on the Hot 100, the first of seven consecutive #1 singles — a record that still stands today.

Nippy threw on somebody’s prom dress and one of Tina Turner’s old wigs and ate it up though. Imagine being 23 and already knowing you’re the best in the world at something. What a moment!

(I’m over 30 and I’m mediocre in every way, so I one thousand percent cannot relate.)

 

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Watch: Melanie C “In And Out Of Love”

Sporty Spice releasing bangers 25 years after “Wannabe” really does something for my spirit.

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Mel C has three songs from her upcoming album on an EP and if this is the tone of the project, she is about to release the best pop album of the year. I’m not remotely exaggerating. Go listen to it.

Sporty Spice releasing bangers 25 years after “Wannabe” really does something for my spirit.

 

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Watch: Diana Ross “Ninety-Nine and a Half”

Look at Diana Ross hollering for the Lord!

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I love Diana Ross.

She has hits on hits and I love her singing tone, but she ain’t no sanger and that’s fine! Janet isn’t either and she’s the most-played artist in my collection. I have heard many things about Diana Ross in my years on this Earth and read many more from before I was born, but nobody ever accused her of having any sort of volume in her little body.

So color me surprised stumbling upon that lil bird lady belting her lungs out for Jesus with Little Richard back in 1987!

Clearly, I need to find this entire production because I need to know why Diana Ross is pretending to be 16 and 76 in the same clip. It’s from her TV special from 1987 to promote her album Red Hot Rhythm and Blues but I haven’t found the whole program yet (here’s Part 2, I’ll dig some more later).

What I didn’t realize was just how big Diana Ross was. She had a whole TV special to promote this album, but when you look for it, you find her 1981 special for CBS. And her 1971 special. Diana Ross was like “hey I wanna do a special” and TV networks were like “sure!” over and over. There’s really nobody to compare that to in today’s entertainment climate other than Beyonce, which is absolutely fitting seeing as how they both rose to fame as the lead singer of a girl group and then catapulted to iconic legend status afterward.

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Now I have some homework to do and a Youtube hole down which to descend.

 

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