As they say, never judge a book by its cover. And that old adage couldn't be more true than in the case of actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The public first became aware of the Oscar-winning beauty's musical chops on the film Country Strong where she sang the film's title song of the same name.
When I first heard Ms. Paltrow sing, I thought, "Hmph, not bad." But, it wasn't until I heard her sing Cee-Lo's popular tune "F**k You" on Glee and at the 2011 Grammy's that I really took notice.
Suddenly, there was some soul there that I hadn't heard or noticed before. I admit, it made me wonder about Ms. Paltrow. On the outside, she appeared to be from a WASP-type pedigree. And, fair or unfair, I don't usually expect persons from such backgrounds to have been exposed to diversity in the true and genuine sense of the word (as in exposure to different persons, cultures, environments, class levels, etc). The type of background, mind you, that typically breeds the soulful sounds routinely found in Gospel, R&B, Soul, Jazz, and some forms of Rock & Roll and Country (yes, country).
But then I heard an interview segment Ms. Paltrow did for The Tanning Effect series from Black Voices. In the segment, Ms. Paltrow admitted to her long-time love affair with 90s rap after discovering N.W.A as a teen (she's a hard-core aficionado who can spit lyrics from the time), her appreciation for the long overdue shift in beauty standards from all-white to more faces of color, and the joy she feels knowing that the America her children are growing up in is far different from the one she came to know in that their FIRST image of a President is that of a black man and such a reality will be their norm.
After listening to Ms. Paltrow's interview, I came away with a new-found understanding and appreciation for the actress and mother of two. Unlike other well-meaning liberals, I didn't hear any of the romanticized, "I don't see color," nonsense you sometimes hear from some whites as they attempt to articulate their appreciation of black culture or the recent strides in race relations (ex. election of Barack Obama).
No, what I heard was a genuine understanding and acknowledgement of some of our nation's flaws and a realistic evaluation as to why the changes in America's landscape are good for everyone, especially her children. Clearly, Ms. Paltrow is not hiding behind anyone's gated community and for that I applaud her.