The name "Molly Ringwald" instantly evokes a collage of images. Pink prom dress. Sitting on a table eating cake with a cute boy. Putting lipstick on with the power of boobs. But a lot of time has passed between Molly's days in the John Hughes '80s acting circle known as the Brat Pack, and the career she has led since has been one filled with variety. She's an author twice over, a TV star, a theater baby, Reddit hero, and now, an accomplished a Jazz singer. Her debut album entitled "Except... Sometimes" takes its cue from the Great American Songbook. She chose nine songs from there, and one track that she hopes will bridge the gap between her past and her present.
New Times: I'm a redditor, and you recently did an AMA (Ask Me Anything, an interview style forum where users of Reddit can ask the person hosting a question, and the host gets to respond to the questions they choose). Your AMA was so successful, that I feel you have re-grabbed the attention of my generation.
Molly Ringwald: That's great! What generation are you? How old are you?
I'm 29. We were only kids when Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club came out. So while I would say most of us have seen those films, we sort of missed the magic of the era that produced them. But when I read your AMA I just kept thinking how cool and down to earth you were.
So my first question is, do you really drink the blood of Kristen Stewart?
Just kidding. Speaking of my generation, Jazz really isn't at the forefront of it. What Jazz album would you recommend to get people interested in Jazz?
Mine! (laughs). You know, Jazz wasn't really at the forefront of my generation either. My father is a Jazz musician, so I grew up with it, singing in his band. But during my teen years, the years when you care what people think about you, I sort of kept it secret. Then at a certain point I thought, "This is ridiculous, this is a part of who I am." My dad is more traditional in the music he likes, such as Louie Armstrong. I tend to go more modern. For someone that doesn't know Jazz that well, I think a good introduction would be Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" maybe.
One of my favorite AMA questions you got was when the user Neuralism asked for book recommendations that would pair nicely with your own books. You not only answered him, but you also suggested what wine to drink while reading. What wine would you pair with your album?
Hmm, a lot of people say my voice is very relaxing and rich, with a bass quality to it. I think it would pair nicely with a Bordeaux.
After hearing your album, I completely agree with that. I feel like your voice is almost weightless. It conjures such strong emotions while being so relaxing at the same time.
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Thank you! It's great for children, because I sing to mine before they go to sleep. But I have to be careful when I do shows that I don't have too many ballads because I can literally see people getting a little too relaxed during my shows.
On your album, the song "Exactly Like You" ends with a child's laughter. For you, did this song have meaning regarding your kids?
That's the great thing about these songs from the Great American Songbook, because you can really interpret them in all different ways. In "Exactly Like You," that's my son Roman at the end because that's the song I would sing to him when he was a baby. It's his favorite song so I wanted him to be a part of it.
I feel that a lot of your album is about love had, lost, and love survived. But "Sad Young Men" is a really beautiful, somber change of pace. One of the lyrics that grabbed me was, "All the sad young men, choking on their worth. Trying to be brave, running from the truth." That's such a powerful statement. What motivated you to sing this song?
That song was written by a woman named Fran Landesman for the musical The Nervous Set which opened and closed on Broadway in the '60s. I always know that songs are really good if I cry when I'm singing them, and it took me a while before I could get through this song without choking up. Of course, I did learn it when I was pregnant, so that might've been part of it.
Your rendition of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is incredible. You've made such a diverse career since the '80s, why did you choose to bring people back to that time of your, and their, lives?
I actually recorded this album in 2009, not long after John Hughes passed away. He was on my mind a lot, and I thought it would be a nice tribute to him. I also thought it was a nice bridge, because a lot of the people who listen to my album and come to my shows have never been into Jazz or the Great American Songbook, which I love. So it's a nice little bridge for them between what they know and what they don't know.
Who is your dream duet?
Wow, so many people. I love Ella Fitzgerald but I would never want to do a duet with her because I would just feel completely intimidated. I have this video of Frank Sinatra doing duets with people, and he looks like someone who was really fun to do duets with.
You do Broadway, write novels, create albums, and star in The Secret Life of the American Teenager. How do you do all of that and have a family?
Well, Secret Life ended, and that was a really easy job to have while I was having kids. Right now I'm not writing a book, I'm supposed to be, but I'm not. I'm on tour so much that when I'm home I really just like hanging out with my kids. It's hard to do everything at once, something always ends up not happening. I think that's the lament of all working parents.
Are you close with your Secret Life costars?
I really like them all, and we try to stay in contact. I really like Shailene [Woodley].
Shailene Woodley's career is really taking off, I feel like she's the new queen of indie and mainstream teen dramas since her breakout role in The Descendants.
I saw a trailer for Divergent last night and it was really nice to see her. I think she's really going to do well. She comes from a really nice family with a great mom.
You speak about your own mother a lot when you talk during interviews, do you think that relationship has a strong influence on a person's career path?
I think so. I think for actors and actresses, that parental support is really important. I really do mean support, though, because if parents are too involved it can become that stage-parent thing which is really difficult. A lot of kids end up trying to break free from that by putting themselves at the opposite side of the pendulum. The right amount of support is key for survival, and I was really fortunate with my parents.
I'm really looking forward to your show at Jazziz in Boca.
I was there for Jazziz' opening and we're really looking forward to coming back. They have an amazing chef. It'll be a really fun couple of nights.
Molly Ringwald will be performing at Jazziz in Boca on January 7 and 8 with two shows per night; one at 7 p.m. and one at 9 p.m. Tickets are $55 for general seating, $65 for premium seating, and $85 for VIP. Visit jazziznightlife.com.
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