Local Singer-Songwriter Releases Song About Self-Empowerment

Arts & Culture

Paul Fournier, Singer-songwriter, Wild Root, paul@snrgyproductions.com

Multi-instrumentalist Paul Fournier played drums and guitar in his church’s band as a kid, worked as a music teacher, and gigged with bands around the US, but his work as principal songwriter and band leader of Wild Root is, for him, the pinnacle of his music endeavors. Years ago, before stepping away from music for a while to work in real estate, he wrote a song that captured what the success of Wild Root meant to him. “I had just succeeded in being able to play music full time,” he says, “and I was at this place in my life where I had life by the horns.” The song, “Say Oh,” was about self-empowerment and breaking free from self-imposed limits. It became a staple of the band’s Bay area live shows, floating around for a few years as an upbeat number whose message, though clear as day to Fournier, went largely unheeded and unheard by show-goers.

When the pandemic swept into Florida and brought with it its subsequent closure of music venues, the song took on new meaning for Fournier. Like most aspects of life during the social distancing protocols, self-empowerment became a more acute concern than a feel-good abstraction. So, Fournier, ever the community-minded artist, decided he wanted to help himself and others combat the anxieties of isolation through song, and he turned to “Say Oh” as his weapon of choice. “I just started thinking about what people need to hear,” he says, “and that song was my window back into music because it’s about keeping on and staying positive.” Reframed and rebranded in this way, Fournier set out to give the song a proper recording, something with which he could introduce listeners both old and new to the song’s original meaning while also coming clean about the struggles buried beneath his success.

The song opens with an anthemic drum line that evokes the binding power of a marching band. By the time Fournier begins the first verse, elements of jazz and indie have established the song as a seamless blend of styles unified by a pervasive sense of hope. If there is hope in the lyrics, however, it only comes after hints of those aforementioned struggles. Gigging bands spend an awful lot of time in bars, and Fournier frequently found himself around alcohol. “I was drinking every day and it was ruining relationships in my life,” he says, “it shows that even when you’re following your dreams, life can really get away from you.” When he sings, “we’re stuck inside our boxes waiting to be free,” he seems to be speaking as much to himself as he is to a listener struggling through isolation.

Now two-and-a-half years sober, Fournier wakes up grateful. His morning routine includes a tally of blessings—running water, a roof over his head, the freedom to pursue his music. He hopes his journey, crystallized in “Say Oh,” can help others remember that self-improvement is an uphill battle but one that, even in isolation and a state of uncertainty, is well worth the effort. “Say Oh” debuts today on all major music streaming platforms.

Paul Fournier, Singer-songwriter, Wild Root, paul@snrgyproductions.com

Wild Root

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