Helen Reddy, the Australian singer best known for her feminist anthem ‘I Am Woman’, has passed away at the age of 78. Reddy’s children, Traci and Jordan, confirmed the news in a statement posted on the ‘Helen Reddy Official Fan Page’ on Facebook. “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles,” they wrote. “She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever.”
Born in Melbourne in 1941, Reddy grew up in a show-business family and started singing publicly at the age of 4. By 1966, she won a talent contest on a television program called Bandstand, and later moved to Los Angeles to pursue an international singing career. She recorded her debut singles ‘One Way Ticket’ and ‘I Believe in Music’ in 1968 and 1970 respectively, but it was with the B-side of the latter single, ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’, that she scored her first hit. Having signed to Capitol Records, she found international success in the 1970s, topping the US Billboard Hot 100 three times: first with 1972’s ‘I Am Woman’, followed by 1973’s ‘Delta Dawn’ and ‘Angie Baby’ a year later.
Reddy went on to host the variety program The Helen Reddy Show and became a musical theater mainstay in the ’80s. She announced her retirement in 2002 but made a brief comeback within the past decade before being diagnosed with dementia in 2015. In 2017, she performed an a cappella version of ‘I Am Woman’ at the Women’s March in LA. A biopic titled I Am Woman, directed by Unjoo Moon and starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, was released earlier this year.
Paying tribute to the late singer, Moon said: “She paved the way for so many and the lyrics that she wrote for I Am Woman changed my life forever like they have done for so many other people and will continue to do for generations to come.”