Molly Ringwald's life and career are about priorities. There were priorities when she was young and spirited, torn between professional jazz singing and acting in what would become watershed coming-of-age movies by the writer-director John Hughes.
And there are certainly priorities now, her time divided among three kids, a burgeoning writing career, television acting and her latest project, a majestic album of American jazz standards titled "Except Sometimes." Ringwald says the long-simmering project is inspired by a childhood rooted in jazz, singing and touring with her father, Dixieland jazz pianist Bob Ringwald, in his Fulton Street Jazz Band.
"Jazz is all I listened to since I was 3, and people didn't know about it when I was a teenager. I didn't want to draw any attention to something that would be, well, kind of strange," says Ringwald with a laugh, speaking from the couch in her home in Southern California.
"I would definitely play the Psychedelic Furs for my friends and Ella Fitzgerald for myself," adds Ringwald, who will perform Wednesday and Thursday at Jazziz Nightlife in Boca Raton. "But when you're a singer, you never stop, and I didn't."
The '80s teen queen famous for "The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles" and "Pretty in Pink" released the album in April. The 10 smoldering, lounge-style numbers showcase Ringwald's smoky mezzo-soprano. The mature ballads are informed by the artists who influenced her best: Bessie Smith, Anita O'Day and Miles Davis. The songs are likewise tied to her dad, who nurtured her singing until she switched to acting.
An album-closing, stripped-down cover of Simple Minds' "Breakfast Club" anthem "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is a nod to Hughes.
"I wanted to pay tribute to him, and I had the idea one day at rehearsal. I love covers that are completely re-thought and re-imagined," she says. "I can't deny that people still associate me with those iconic movies that run constantly on cable. I don't see any point in fighting it. But I think that song creates a bridge, and that bridge has brought people to my album who wouldn't normally be interested in jazz music, which is a good thing."
Molly Ringwald will perform 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Jazziz Nightlife, 201 Plaza Real, Suite 1203, in Boca Raton. Tickets cost $55-$85. Call 561-910-7721 or go to Jazziz.com/JazzizNightlife.