Dierks Bentley on The War and Treaty Moving Country Music 'Forward' (Exclusive)

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Dierks Bentley is opening up about the changing landscape of country music. Bentley and The War and Treaty spoke to ET from their ACM Awards rehearsal about performing "Pride (In the Name of Love)" at the 56th annual awards show and how the duo not only took the song to a different place, but country music too.

"It takes on a whole new life when The War and Treaty came in. So, originally did the song with the Punch Brothers, [a] very cool bluegrass arrangement of a U2 song," Bentley said of the 2010 track. "Obviously, I want to do something totally different, and, so it's great. Larkin Poe are these girls who play mandolin and over the song, Cocktails plays bass and fiddle. So we've got 3 rad girls shredding on this song."

And with The War and Treaty's booming voices and an ode to Martin Luther King Jr., the song has become one that Bentley is most proud of.

"You have The War and Treaty singing all the big notes and taking the 3rd verse about Martin Luther King," he explains. "I dunno, it feels pretty, for me as much as I've done, this one feels like the one I'll be most proud of."

For the couple behind The War and Treaty, Michael and Tanya Trotter, they're hoping the song and tribute to MLK can help listeners reach from their world to someone else's world to help make a change.

"I hope that people take away the fact that we can not only make the difference, but be the difference that we all so desperately strive to be, and I think that this moment being able to reach out across the aisles, being able to reach from your world to someone else's world, is how we change the world," Michael told ET.

Bentley met the group at the Seven Peaks Music Festival he holds in Colorado every year, and it wasn't long before he became a fan, collaborating with the group and eventually inviting them to perform with him at the ACM Awards in what he calls a "really exciting time" for country music.

"I think it's a really exciting time for country music," Bentley gushed. "You wanna make the best music, you gotta include all the best people," Bentley said. "When I'm looking for songs, I'm not just picking songs from this group, I'm trying to find a really wide net, and so I think we need to do that with our artists as well."

"These guys being a big part of the show, I think it reflects a new moving forward for country music," Bentley added. "If you're not moving forward, you're dying, so it's important. I think... country music should be honored that they’re coming here and doing this with us. It's gonna be cool."

The War and Treaty will be making history with their ACMs performance, becoming the first African American married couple ever to perform at the awards show.

"Well you know one thing that I always look at when I look at history, is that it's all about history you know it's not just one culture's history it's everybody's history, and this moment for us is we’re making history," Tanya explains. "We're the first so we got stats, that we're the first African American married couple to perform on the ACM awards, so that's history."

The 2021 ACM Awards will air live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET (delayed PT) on Sunday, April 18, as well as live and on demand on Paramount+, from three iconic Nashville venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.

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