The War and Treaty aren't just celebrating their first ACM nomination in 2023 — they're also celebrating a historic moment for the awards show, as they become the first Black artists to ever be nominated for ACM Duo of the Year.

When the nominees list first came out, husband-and-wife duo Michael and Tanya Trotter celebrated their nod with happy tears, and shouted out the Black country legends who came before them, including Charley Pride, Ray Charles and DeFord Bailey.

Now, as show day nears, the duo are reflecting even more on the magnitude of the milestone, naming contemporary stars like Jimmie Allen, Kane Brown, Mickey Guyton, Breland and Brittney Spencer as artists they're proud to stand alongside in the push for widespread social change.

"It signifies that all of us together are doing something we've never seen. The entire country," Tanya reflects, discussing the significance of the historic moment with Taste of Country. "And there's a reason for all of us to celebrate, because we're moving forward."

"Yeah, but I think it's also very important to single out the ACMs. It's very important to make sure that we make that distinction, because it's important to see them leading the way," Michael adds.

As they head into the awards show as nominees, the duo know they're representing a whole swath of country artists, and that's a responsibility that they don't take lightly. "I remember hearing Lainey Wilson say one year, 'We won't let you down.' And I think it's very important for artists to say that. Tanya and I won't let you down. So thank you for this nomination," Michael continues.

The duo's ambitions in country music aren't just about finding success, winning awards and having hits. In fact, one of their most important dreams doesn't include being onstage at all. When asked to describe a dream of theirs outside the trajectory of their musical career, the War and Treaty say that they'd like to mount their own festival one day.

"Where all feel welcomed, all feel included and all feel the love that we feel for our fellow man, woman and pronoun," Michael relates. "That is a big dream of ours: Just a festival of love and healing, also targeting people who need help mourning."

The duo have long been committed to raising awareness for mental health and grief issues. Michael, a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, experienced homelessness and PTSD after completing his service, and the couple has long been vocal about their personal experiences with mental struggles. As their platform grows, they hope to create space for others going through similar difficulties.

"I think that's a thing in our country — we talk about mental health, we talk about the suicides, we talk about the loss of life ... but we don't really talk about, 'How do you mourn? How do you move forward?'" he details. "I would like to make that a central focal point for our kind of music festival that we put on."

"Healing and mental health," Tanya agrees. "[Music is] the one place you can be unapologetically vulnerable."

In addition to their nomination, the War and Treaty are scheduled to perform at the 2023 ACM Awards on Thursday night (May 11). The show will take place at Frisco, Texas' Ford Center; it'll stream live on Amazon Prime Video.

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