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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  April 25, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. actresssation with molly ringwald. she first made her mark as a teen star. she is starring as the mom of a teenager in the abc family hit series. she is just finished a passion project recording her first ever album. we're glad you have joined us. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s.
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as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: i suspect no one of a certain age can forget molly ringwald. then when starring in those films, her first love was always music. she has just recorded her first ever cd, in a jazz album called "except sometimes." here is a small taste of what to expect.
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♪ get my man ♪ good to have you back. anywhere, you appear the introduction is similar to the one you just heard. movies. do you ever get tired of hearing that? it happens whether you let them or not. it depends on the day. i think i am proud of those films. it would be a real bummer if i was known for something i did not like. i am really happy with the stuff i am doing now. if those films bring people to listen to jazz album when they would not ordinarily listen to a jazz album, that is ok. tavis: when you look back at -- i have james
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aylor on this program once week -- he talked about how steffy had written 20 or 30 years ago has different meeting to him now than in did back then. when you look back on the films of years ago, at whether or not you see stuff now or think stuff now that you did not think then. > i watched "pretty in pink" strength for the first time with my nine-year-old daughter. they're really going through what young teenagers were going through in my day. is something i have to contend with. i was seeing her go through some issues with kids that were older and mean girls and popularity. i thought, i would love to have
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a movie i could show her or there is a strong female protagonist and she is -- she has a strong core and she fights against -- i made that movie. [laughter] i made that movie. there is no better movie to watch. it was great. i think it really helped her. that is the first time i really felt the impact, i think. i did not experience those movies the way other people experience to them. it was the closest thing to really appreciating them. tavis: that is a great story. hughes, you were like his musie. what do you make of that relationship? >> it was amazing.
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at the time. it was incredibly flattering and we also really connected on a deeper level. we were born the same day, february 18, 18 years apart. there was something that seemed kind of cosmic and predestined. it was a really great relationship. i think he taught me a lot and i am willing glad i was his muse. with awhat was happening love for music that -- at that moment, it was somewhat suppressed? >> i kept singing, i did not do it publicly. i was sitting here and there, i would always sing with my dad. i was always doing a few tracks on my dad's albums. at that time, unlike nowadays where every young disney start is expected to sing and dance
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and be a pop star, and before me, and the golden age of musicals, everybody saying and danced. when i was doing movies, there were not that many people doing both. i felt like i had to make a choice. the music i liked to sing, i did not think there was any way i would be able to make a career out of that. along came people like norah jones, jane monheit and prove me wrong. i am glad to be able to come back to it. it was the right time for me. tavis: the difference between you and those persons you just mentioned is that they did not have another box they had to break out of. they did not have to convince the public to take them .eriously in this lane >> that is true. tavis: you are not the first actor to have to deal with this.
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i am multi talented, i cannot and i can sing. tell me about the journey -- i can act and i can sing. tell me about the journey about doing this. work toyou had to convince people. >> you can either single or you cannot. the moment you open your mouth, you pretty much know. anybody can do a recording and they can use devices to make them some better than they are. you have to tour your album eventually and people will figure it out. i never worried some much about that. we do live in a very specialized society, once you think about somebody as one thing, it is hard to change that. i do a lot of things. i act, i write, i sing. tavis: you raise kids. >> 3.
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in three years, i've written two books, had two kids, and i've done a jazz album. that is a lot to do in three years. what was your question? tavis: you answered it. i will move on to the next one. you referenced year-earlier. -- you great artist reference to your dad earlier. he is a great artist. obviously, he had a great impact on you. tell me more about the relationship that you had with your dad or the music is concerned. >> i am very close with my dad. both of my parents, but my dad and i have always been extremely close. it really is because of the music. once he figured out i could sing, which is because of my she told my father and my
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dad did not believe her. he checked it out and he thought, she really can sing. we started to work together and he started to teach me songs. i had been listening to jazz all the time. that was the music that was played in the house. i had a special set fondness for bessie smith. tavis: what was about that style? >> i just like the songs. nobody knows you when you are down and out. i responded to them. when i was 6, we had a report we had to do on famous americans. all the girls were picking florence nightingale and all the boys were picking george washington and thomas jefferson.
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i picked bessie smith. there was a piano in the classroom. they're still talking about that in sacramento. there was something about that music. even though the music that icing on this album is more modern -- that icing on this album is more modern than my father's taste in music, that is my first love. tavis: windy recall the first time you performed publicly with your father -- when do you recall the first time you performed publicly with your father? washe first performance speed -- was the california state fair at 3.5. i remember it vividly. when you developed all
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ive of jazz -- my mom and were talking not too long ago. we were talking about the fact that when you a child, we were a very spiritual family. it is one thing to lean on your mom and dad's relationship with god. at some point, you have to develop your own relationship when you start going to things on your own. it is one thing to be introduced to jazz by your father. at some point, you develop your own love for it. evolution of the developing your own unique style and taste and affinity for your brand of jazz. >> it really came from my love of vocalists. once i moved from bessie smith, i discovered elephants gerald.
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fitzgerald. she recorded everything. every song of the american songbook, she recorded. she was really the first person that really got me into vocalists. , he really approaches everything from the musical side. even hearhe does not the lyrics. because i am an actress, and a writer, i approached everything as a character. what are they saying? what to the lyrics mean? for me, i cannot sing a song, connect with the lyrics. sing, these songs that i there is nothing like that, these beautiful -- nobody rides like that today.
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perceive how the acting experience and artistry gives you a different way of getting at interpreting the lyrical content. have his artist will or her own way of interpreting. you see it differently because you are into character. when you are in state -- onstage, how does the acting experience work? >> ella was just about as close as you could get to a perfect instrument musically. she was phenomenal. that, i got into singers were not as perfect, but had more emotion in the voice. delie holiday, blossom
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arie. i think i approached singing like that. but whentrained voice, i am singing, i do not think about that side of that. i am just thinking about the lyrics and what they mean to me. that is the way i approach acting. there is a song on the album that is called "i get along and theyou very well" album is called "except sometimes." somebody at indiana university gave him a palm called "except sometimes." he adapted the song from this poem. and he adapted it pretty faithfully. when it came time to published this song, he had no idea who
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wrote the poem. they had to go on this big search. it turned out to be this woman named jane brown thompson, who was a widow from philadelphia. when you know the story, it makes those lyrics so much more meaningful. ihe lyrics of the song -- think it is knowing things like that, really breaking down a song and thinking about the lyrics, it really informs my singing style. tavis: speaking of the personal touch, there are a couple of things that stand out. one of the tracks features the voices of your baby. exactly -- i
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recorded this when my twins were six months old. that was the song that helped put them to sleep. he loved that song. when we went into the studio, he really has to be a part of the song. we got that great to giggle. it just makes you happy. you bringther track, the breakfast club soundtrack back. treat that song is different. >> i do not see any point of doing a cover of a song the way the song was done in the first
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place. i did record this album not that long after the john hughes pa away. he was in my mind a lot. i wanted to do some tribute to him. i really have to credit my that.t for i did not know if it was possible. we sat and started working on it. he was really the one who came up with those beautiful chords. it turned out it really -- it turned out really well. a lot of people -- especially when i sing in front of a crowd of people, a lot of people do not know what song is. they know that they know it. it has been publicized and more people know about it. tavis: this is a question you could ask of any artist. about deciding
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what the content was going to be on the project. the question is interesting for me or your project is concerned because it is your first project and this molly ringwald singing and acting. what was the process -- singing and not acting. what was the process? >> it is my second album. i did one when i was 6 years old. tavis: excuse me, molly ringwald. can simply, it is the second album. the secondlly, it is album. >> i think the way i went about choosing the songs, these are songs i have always loved. since i knew it was gone to be
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songs from the great american want to pick ones that were not recorded quite as much. there are standards, but when somebody does a standards album, there is always my funny valentine and they are wonderful songs and that is why everybody wants to record them, but i ried to declines -- pick one that did not been heard quite as much. a little bit more obscure, but still really beautiful. i tried to pick songs that the whole band loves. will love the song but it does not gel together with the group. hass: given that your dad been a band leader, would help city give you -- what help did
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he give you? >> my dad has always had a lot of faith in me as an artist and a person. he does not really dispense with a lot of advice when it comes to the music. he taught me a lot over the years, but when i was taking on this project, he is very hands- off about that. he appreciates what i have done. he is very supportive. i know the answer to this question, but i will ask anyway. how important is it for your dad to really like this? would you have been okay if your dad had not liked it? the stuff you do on this is not here is -- how important was his stamp of approval? >> i would like to say as an adult that i would have been
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fined if they did not like it. but i would not be telling the truth. been no kshould have whether or not he liked it. but having his stamp of approval is incredibly meaningful for me. he is also really honest. song he was a little iffy about was the "don't you forget about me." he could not figure out why i recorded it. his favorite song is the balance of sad young men. he loved that song. it is exciting to be blessed with my dad and say, i love that baseline.
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it is exciting to be able to do that. tavis: it is clear to the person watching this program at home that you have a love of the music. the artistryon for of its and you know the history of it. father, whether you got a chance to meet or performance -- id you ever meet ella fitzgerald? >> i had tickets to go see her at the hollywood bowl. i ended up getting subpoenaed by the government for one of the packing cases. cases.king i could not get out of it.
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i missed the tickets and she passed away and not long after. i did get to meet people like blake. there is a picture of me singing -- one of the few pictures was he was ever smiling. i got to meet a lot of people, even before i knew they were. of course, i have seen people. got to see blossom dearie before she passed away. tavis: the music is beautiful. assume you are happy with your first project. a skit -- excuse me, your second project. >> there are always things you
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here where you wish you would have done it differently. i am really proud of it. i am proud i had the idea to do it and i completed it and i am really proud that concord jazz picked it up. that is a pretty amazing label. tavis: this could have been self distributed. theacting -- how is television show coming? >> i am finished with a television show and i'm working on writing my second model. then i mentioned those three kids? this albumouring this year. i will be in australia. i will give the montreal jazz festival in july. i will be out there. tavis: molly ringwald will be out there and you will want to see her and judge for yourself. it is a second project. it is called "except sometimes."
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some wonderful jazz including some standards. glad to have be back on the program. good to see you. that is our show for tonight. as always, until next time, keep the faith. onfor more information today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time kevinconversation with bacon. that is next time. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs. daniel mansergh:
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