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Behind the Mic: Paul ‘Junior’ Sciré of ‘Soul Kitchen’

Written by on Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Paul Sciré of “Soul Kitchen”

Paul “Junior” Sciré of “Soul Kitchen” on WSLR is a big fan of the Bob Marley quote, “one good thing about music is that when it hits, you feel no pain.”

Sciré’s “music for the soul” themed show airs alternating Sundays from 7-9 p.m. on WSLR. “Soul Kitchen” highlights the best in rhythm & blues, funk, jazz-fusion, and, of course, soul music.

“I see myself in the studio as a type of chef serving up some good music – music with a lot of emotion, meaning and flavor,” Sciré says. “It gives me tremendous satisfaction when I play something that moves someone.”

The “Soul Kitchen” logo, designed by Paul Scire’s oldest daughter, Sarah, depicts a spinning vinyl record with steam spilling out of the top.

A recent “Soul Kitchen” featured the music of Al Green, The Chambers Brothers and Santana, to name a few. Sciré also included the Richie Havens song, “I Can’t Make it Anymore,” which he characterized as more of an outlier to other music played that night, but a favorite that he shares with his daughter.

“Soul Kitchen” fan James Gardella says he and his wife have a very sentimental connection to the show.

“Many of the singers and groups that he plays are performers that my wife and I have heard singing live through our 55 years together,” Gardella says. “He plays the music of our lives.”

Other avid listeners, Mary Ziegler and Bruce Bohanon, say that Sciré’s show has greatly expanded their soul music knowledge. “We are regular listeners to ‘Soul Kitchen,’” Ziegler says. “We enjoy the fact that each week’s program has a theme that links that night’s artists and songs.”

Sciré, a strong advocate for the visual arts and civil rights, participated in the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s; Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu were some of his heroes.

He ends every show reminding listeners to “stand up for your rights.” He says that arts and activism were a driving factor when he and his wife, Liliana, decided to make the move from New Jersey to Sarasota, about five years ago.

Paul Sciré, vice chair of the WSLR+Fogartyville Board of Directors, greeted guests at the “Rooted in Community” celebration honoring founders Dave Beaton and Arlene Sweeting.

“As soon as I moved to Sarasota, I began researching organizations that were progressive and promoted peace, democracy, and economic and social justice,” Sciré says. “I have been involved in grassroots community organizations since I was a teenager back in the 1970s. So, finding WSLR was a nice surprise. I immediately felt a strong connection to WSLR and began volunteering in late 2019.”

He says that growing up in a welcoming and diverse neighborhood had a significant impact on his musical tastes and habits.

“My apartment building was like the United Nations. I heard all types of music and loved it all,” he says.

Sciré grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Al Green, but he also connected to folk music and rock bands like The Beatles and Rolling Stones. Afro-Cuban music and Latin soul were also significant.

“My father had a collection of old 45 records from the 1950s, so early rock ‘n’ roll, which came from rhythm & blues, had an influence on me as well,” Sciré says.

The WSLR programmer also plays guitar, writes songs, and has composed some electronic music, but that musical side of him remains mostly private.

Sciré is the Senior Director of Donor Engagement – Major Gifts for the Sarasota Orchestra and sits on the WSLR+Fogartyville Board of Directors, a volunteer board. In both of these roles, he emphasizes the importance of community.

“I enjoy working with patrons of the Sarasota Orchestra, people who truly understand the importance of music in the human experience and how it helps build community,” he says. “I became a board member because I believe in WSLR’s mission and want to help build an even bigger and better organization. WSLR has an important role to play in our community and I want to help make sure that it has a real and lasting impact.”

When not at the station or the orchestra, Sciré can be found going on walks in the Rosemary District with his wife and their new dog, Mookie.

He relishes the opportunity to share music for the soul with WSLR listeners.

“Music makes us human. Music lifts our spirits, soothes our souls, inspires us, and gives us comfort when we are down and troubled. I can’t imagine a world without music. There is nothing more gratifying than sharing music with others because it brings people together. Music is a powerful unifying art form. It is a universal language.”

– by Sarah Malickson, communications intern at WSLR+Fogarytville