Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Long before she became known as a Golden Globe-nominated actress, Ringwald was singing. She started performing with her pianist father’s jazz band when she was three and she has never stopped.
“I had quite the musical repertoire,” she recalls with a laugh. “It was pretty much traditional jazz but there was some Bessie Smith and Helen Kane, the original Betty Boop.” Talk with Ringwald for even a short amount of time and it’s clear her grasp of jazz and its history comes from a lifelong study of the form and the great singers who inspired her, including Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Blossom Dearie and Susannah McCorkle.
“Blossom Dearie was the only one I got to see live. Susannah’s recordings have really influenced me. I think she was really special in her gifts of interpretation and how much humanity she brought to the songs.” However, the time wasn’t right until now. Paul Mazursky cast the then 13-year old in “Tempest,” and for the next few decades, her public focus was on acting, as she starred in such films as “Fresh Horses,” “Betsy’s Wedding,” “King Lear,” “The Pick-Up Artist,” and, of course, her trio of films with John Hughes, “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty In Pink.” “Once I started to act I felt like I had to make that decision,” she says. Plus, during the ‘80s, “I didn’t think there was a place for the music that I was interested in,” she says. “There was no Madeline Peyroux, Diana Krall, Norah Jones… I didn’t feel like anybody was going to listen to the kind of music that I wanted to sing. I thought, I’ll just keep singing with my dad and focus on my acting.”
Ringwald recorded Except Sometimes with Peter Smith, who also produced, on piano, Clayton Cameron on drums, Allen Mezquida on alto saxophone, and Trevor Ware on bass. Together, they put a new spin on such jazz and musical standards as “The Very Thought of You,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes),” “I’ll Take Romance,” “Sooner or Later,” and “Where Is Love.” “It was really hard to narrow it down,” she says, of selecting the album’s 10 tracks. “It was basically songs that I felt connected to and songs that I felt we played together well as a band. As much as I love traditional jazz, my real interest is more modern, more from the Great American Song Book.”