The pen is mightier than the small willy, especially when wielded by small-willied music journalists all too eager to oversimplify the truth for audiences all too willing to put artists in a box. If you had a buck for every time Pat Benatar was cited for "paving the way for the current crop of female rockers," blah-blah, you'd collect almost as much as her royalties for her string of multiplatinum albums. So let's dig a bit deeper, shall we? Besides her oft-discussed ability to exude toughness and sincerity together with unmistakably feminine vulnerability, Benatar managed a similar balancing act musically. She deftly blended new wave and straight-ahead rock, with enough tension between the two styles that she almost sounded reluctant in either direction -- arguably the hidden appeal behind her hits. Benatar's operatic abilities were discovered in grade school. She was about to attend Juilliard when she heeded the unholy call of rock 'n' roll, but she refused to sell her soul along the way. She learned quickly how to stand up to lecherous, condescending record execs who didn't take her seriously (despite the fact that she essentially made Chrysalis Records). Admitting that when she started she didn't think people her age belonged in rock 'n' roll, Benatar is grateful for the ability to do what she wants, like have a sleeper hit, her blues album True Love, and tote a washing machine on her tour bus. Her show at Gulfstream Park is a one-off, as Benatar is currently not on tour. Catch her at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at Gulfstream Park (901 S. Federal Hwy., Hallandale Beach). Call 954-454-7000. -- Saby Reyes-Kulkarni
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