“Everybody loves a great song.”
Those are the words of lifelong musician, actor and Punta Gorda resident Robert Holifield. And he’s not wrong.
On Oct. 12, Robert Holifield and The Old School Review Band will put the funk back into Southwest Florida, playing classic hits from R&B, soul, rock and blues at the William H. Wakeman, III Cultural Center Theater in Port Charlotte.
“You got different featured favorites in our show,” Holifield said, “Like Otis Redding, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Steve Miller Band, The Drifters and The Four Tops (and) even the late, great Elvis Presley ... everybody loves Elvis.”
By putting together a mixture of artists at the top of their game, Holifield knows he and his band will be giving the audience the real “show stoppers” for multiple generations.
“These are songs that please the baby boomers as well as young artists that are coming up, as well as people that are passed the baby boomer age,” Holifield said.
Holifield, also known as Shaka Cumuka, was born in the small town of Johnstown, Pa. With his love for music and performing, he started out at age three singing center stage for his church. By age 14, he started his own band and made his first recording of Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There.”
“I’m from the old school generation,” Holifield said, “whereas, I came (of age) with artists like George Clinton, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, as well as music and theater. “When I started playing music in the beginning, I was 7 or 8 years old watching (psychedelic funk band) Sly and the Family Stone and (singer-songwriter) Curtis Lee Mayfield ... when I watched them play, I knew I had to have a guitar.”
Larry Graham, bassist of Sly and the Family Stone and founder of ,70s funk band Graham Central Station, was Holifield’s next big influence.
“After witnessing players like Larry Graham play bass guitar, I realized then that I never saw a performance like that in my life and it changed my whole perspective and made me respect music. I started with a definite goal in mind to be able to do the same thing I saw him do.”
Later on, Holifield did a variety of commercials and worked behind the scenes with notable artists like George Clinton, Billy Preston, The Temptations and Barry White. Holifield also appeared in some movies and television shows like “Starsky & Hutch, “The Heavyweight,” “Rocky II,” “Sergeant Matlovich vs. the U.S. Air Force” and “Brewsters Million.”
Despite acting success, his real passion always came back to music — singing, playing rhythm and bass guitar, and composing songs. With his band, Holifield will be playing covers of classic hits, but also some original songs. His originals combine influences of R&B, Soul and Funk, creating a fusion of sound with singles like “The Things That You Do,” “Lily,” “Expect the Unexpected” and his latest “Go For It.”
“One of my favorite parts of playing music is trying to write the next great song,” Holifield said. “Everybody loves a great song.”