Re-Live The War And Treaty’s Powerful Performance Of ‘If I Can Dream’ From ‘Christmas At Graceland’

This was a “surreal” experience for the husband and wife duo.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

November 30, 2023

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The War and Treaty; Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC

Husband and wife duo The War and Treaty, composed of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter, joined the star-studded lineup of performers who paid tribute to Elvis Presley and brought the spirit of Christmas alive through NBC’s holiday special, Christmas at Graceland.

The magical special that aired on Wednesday evening (Nov. 29), marked the first event of its kind to broadcast from Graceland, Presley’s beloved estate visited by millions each year. 

The War and Treaty; Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC
The War and Treaty; Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC

Donning all-white ensembles with a pop of red and dazzling rhinestones, the Grammy-nominated couple stood on a stage reminiscent of the same square platform Presley performed on during his 1968 Comeback Special, “Elvis.” Just as it was in the TV special at the time, Elvis’ name was lit up in big red outlined letters in the background as The War and Treaty resurrected a significant tune of Presley’s collection, “If I Can Dream.”

Michael took the lead on the opening verse, letting his jaw-dropping vocals fill the room before Tanya exposed her incredible vocal range on the second verse. Throughout the remainder of the performance, the pair left all their energy on the stage as their velvety voices harmoniously danced together amid a string of trumpets, blinking lights and dynamic instruments.

“We’re lost in a cloud with too much rain We’re trapped in a world that’s troubled with pain But as long as a man has the strength to dream He can redeem his soul and fly (He can fly),” they sing on the bridge.

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Inspiration Behind The Song

“If I Can Dream” was written by Walter Earl Brown and inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s believed that Presley felt an incredibly strong connection to the song when he took it into the studio to record it in 1968, the same year King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN.

This moving tune features direct quotes from the Civil Rights leader and offers an important message for the country. Presley gave his all to this powerful song in order to properly convey the themes of hope and unity after hearing the news of King’s death. 

According to the official Graceland website, Presley made his debut performance of “If I Can Dream” at the end of his ’68 Special on December 3, 1968. It was later released as a single, spent 13 weeks on the U.S. pop chart peaking at No. 12 and is now a Gold Record single. This was the song that led Presley to promise himself that for the rest of his career, he would only record songs and act in movies that he truly believed in.

The War and Treaty; Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC
The War and Treaty; Photo by: Katherine Bomboy/NBC

During The War and Treaty’s performance of this song, Michael sported an all-white suit with a red tie that closely resembles the suit the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll wore during the TV special. His historic ensemble is now on display in the Museum at Graceland. 

The pair expressed their utmost joy and appreciation for getting the unique opportunity to bring this song to life while paying tribute to Presley on the grounds of his beloved home.  

The Duo Says It Was A Surreal Experience

“In our wildest dreams, we never imagined that we would find ourselves standing on the hallowed grounds of Elvis’ estate, let alone performing the very song that altered the course of his career,” The War and Treaty tells American Songwriter in an exclusive statement. “It is a surreal and humbling experience to be a part of Elvis’ dream, to champion the causes he fought for, even in the face of adversity. 

“We carry the torch of his legacy, a legacy built on love and music, with the utmost honor and reverence,” they continue. “It is a privilege to continue his mission, spreading his message of unity and joy through the power of song. Elvis’ spirit lives on through us, and we are forever grateful to be a part of his enduring legacy. In the words of Elvis, ‘When you can’t say it, sing it.’”  

Airing live on Wednesday, Nov. 29 on NBC, the holiday special also featured performances by Alanis Morissette, John Legend, Kane Brown, Kacey Musgraves, Lainey Wilson, Lana Del Rey and Post Malone. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.