Grammy-nominated country music duo The War and Treaty are speaking out about a racist incident they faced at the Coca-Cola Sips & Sounds Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Trotter Jr. said he and his wife Tanya were devastated after they found cotton plant in their dressing room at the festival before going on stage.

“Anger is what I felt. Disrespect is what I felt. Sadness is what I felt. Sadness not just because of what that plant represents to people that look like me but sadness for myself because I am a son of this country. I served this country honorably in the United States Army 16th Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. I’m wounded for that service. I’m very vocal about my wounds and my scars, and I felt betrayed,” Trotter told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not fair. It’s something that white artists don’t have to worry about at all. … It just happens to come through the bowels of this genre. So, I feel that it’s not enough for us to talk about it, we have to demand that we be about it.”

Despite the troubling sight, Trotter said he and Tanya decided to perform anyway. After the show, however, the couple immediately left the venue.

“When I demanded that we quickly leave this festival and get out of there, Tanya and I had a moment in our hotel room where we wanted to address our son, Legend, who’s 12, and he ended up addressing us,” Trotter said.  “He said that this is not the time to be quiet about it. He was very upset, and he understood exactly what it meant. He’s home schooled, and he knows what that means.”

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a representative for the Sips & Sounds Music Festival said the organizers are “disheartened” to see that the couple were disturbed at the event.

“There was no purposeful harm intended, and we sincerely apologize,” the rep told The Hollywood Reporter. “Their concern was met with immediate action, including a heartfelt in-person apology, removal of the decor and a personal conversation with the artists by event organizers to assure them this was an honest mistake.”

Tanya and Trotter have been enjoying a highly successful journey in the past year. The couple came out with their major-label debut, Lover’s Game, in 2023 and also made history that year when they became the first Black performers to be nominated for duo of the year at both the CMA and ACM Awards. They also collaborated with country music star Zach Bryan and released “Hey Driver,” which became a Top 15 track on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. Additionally, Tanya and Trotter have earned two Grammy nominations in 2024.


Following the racist incident Sips & Sounds Music Festival, Tanya said she is especially disturbed because she is the granddaughter of a sharecropper. Tanya told The Hollywood Reporter that her grandfather bought a plantation and picked cotton in New Bern, North Carolina, where her family still lives.

“So when you see these things, you look at it and you’re like, ‘Wow, even though my grandfather bought the plantation, there’s still a lot of pain rooted for people that didn’t get an opportunity to change it into economic development for their families,'” Tanya told the media outlet. “I didn’t want to sit in there and educate because it’s not my position to educate anybody on what cotton is and what it represents in this country. It just shouldn’t happen. Beyond it just being about racism, it’s broader now. It’s now a safety issue because we have to feel safe coming to these festivals.”