Helen Reddy: Australian singer of feminist anthem I Am Woman dies

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image copyrightGetty Images

legendHelen Reddy rose to fame in the 1970s

Helen Reddy, the Australian singer behind the feminist anthem I Am Woman, has died aged 78.

Reddy died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, her family said in a Facebook statement.

Her children Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers have described her as “a wonderful mother, a wonderful grandmother and a really great wife”.

“Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in knowing that his voice will live on forever. “

Reddy had a string of pop and rock hits in the 1970s, but he is best known for the 1972 anthem I Am Woman – a catchy song that rose to prominence in the women’s liberation movement.

A dormant success, it sold millions of copies worldwide, making Reddy the world’s best-selling female artist for two years.

Collecting her 1973 Grammy Award for Best Female Singer, Reddy thanked “God because she makes everything possible.”

image copyrightGetty Images
legendHelen Reddy became a feminist icon for her hit song

Born in Melbourne in 1941, Reddy grew up in a showbiz family with actor parents and performed regularly as a child.

After winning a talent competition in Australia, her award-winning ticket took her to New York City in the 1960s, where she auditioned for a recording contract.

This opportunity failed but Reddy decided to stay in the United States, later signing with Capitol Records.

His first hit, I don’t know how to love it, was followed by a succession of others including Crazy Love, Delta Dawn and Angie Baby.

But it was her second hit, I Am Woman, that catapulted her to international fame and became a defining song for a generation of women.

Reddy said she wrote the lyrics – with lines like “I’m strong, I’m invincible, I’m a woman” – after struggling to find other songs that reflect her pride in being a woman.

Between two international tours, she also hosted a season of the Helen Reddy Show on NBC TV in prime time in 1973.

A year later, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Diagnosed with dementia in 2015, she spent the last years of her life in a celebrity retirement home in Los Angeles.

A biographical film, titled I Am Woman, was released in Australia earlier this year.

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