Molly Ringwald rediscovers her jazz roots
This April 9, 2013 photo shows actress-singer Molly Ringwald posing in Los Angeles. Ringwald's latest CD "Except Sometimes," was released earlier this month. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) — Molly Ringwald has moved from "The Breakfast Club" to the jazz club.
The redheaded actress who describes herself as "your former teen-age crush" in her Twitter bio will always live in her generation's memories for portraying the angst of high school life as an everyday girl, teen princess and outsider in her iconic 1980s films "Sixteen Candles," ''The Breakfast Club," and "Pretty In Pink" with writer-director John Hughes.
Now the 45-year-old has taken on a new role as a jazz singer with the release last week of her album "Except Sometimes," a collection of Great American Songbook and Broadway tunes. She sings about romance from a mature, adult perspective, interpreting such tunes as "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and "The Very Thought of You." She also pays tribute to the late Hughes by reclaiming "Don't You (Forget About Me)," the Simple Minds' theme to "The Breakfast Club," turning it into a jazz ballad.
She believes her acting experience has helped enhance her jazz singing.
"As an actor you pay attention to the words and you get into character," she said. "I tend to do this with music as well. I really get into the lyric."
She will be performing limited engagements at jazz clubs across the country, allowing enough breaks to spend time at home with her three children and husband, writer-editor Panio Gianopoulos.
Her jazz roots run deep. Her father, blind pianist Bob Ringwald, plays traditional Dixieland jazz. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of female jazz singers — reeling off the names of those who most influenced her: Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day, Blossom Dearie and Susannah McCorkle.
Ringwald considers jazz her "musical equivalent of comfort food." Her parents encouraged her to pursue interests other than acting — singing, writing, reading and traveling — which kept her engaged in a world outside Hollywood and its club scene, avoiding the pitfalls that ensnared some of her teen co-stars.
"I hear jazz and it just feels good because it reminds me of my childhood," said Ringwald, speaking by telephone from her home in the Los Angeles area. "I started singing with my dad when I was 3 years old and really developed a close relationship with him through music that endures to this day."
Ringwald would sit in with her father's Sacramento-based Fulton Street Jazz Band singing Fats Waller and Bessie Smith songs. She recorded her first jazz album, "I Wanna Be Loved By You, Molly Sings" with her father's band at age 6.
Ringwald originally wanted to be a singer, making her professional debut at age 10 in a West Coast production of "Annie." But after landing her first TV and film roles, she decided to focus on acting — a choice she says she wouldn't have to make as a teen actor today given the popularity of "Glee" and "High School Musical."
"When I started acting, it didn't seem that there were any actors that were also singing," Ringwald said. "I really felt to be taken seriously as an actress, I would have to just give up the idea of having a musical career."