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I Am Woman singer Helen Reddy dies aged 78

Photo of Helen REDDY

Helen Reddy died in Los Angeles on Tuesday (Picture: Tony Russell/Redferns)

I Am Woman singer Helen Reddy has died aged 78.

The Australian singer’s family confirmed that Reddy died on Tuesday in Los Angeles, five years after being diagnosed with dementia.

Reddy’s children Traci and Jordan said in a statement: ‘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. 

‘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.’

Reddy began performing at the age of four, and had her breakthrough in 1970 when she released a cover of the Jesus Christ Superstar song I Don’t Know How To Love Him.

Two years later, she released her signature track I Am Woman, and while it wasn’t an instant hit, it became a radio smash as female listeners requested their local radio stations play it as a feminist anthem.

Four months after it was released, I Am Woman re-entered the charts and went to number one in the States, making Reddy the first Australian singer to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song also won Reddy the Grammy for best female pop vocal performance, and while accepting the award, she famously thanked God ‘because She makes everything possible’.

I Am Woman has become a feminist anthem and a karaoke classic, featuring in films like My Best Friend’s Wedding and Sex And The City 2. 

Speaking about the song three decades on, Reddy said: ‘I think it came along at the right time. I’d gotten involved in the Women’s Movement, and there were a lot of songs on the radio about being weak and being dainty and all those sort of things. 

‘All the women in my family, they were strong women. They worked. They lived through the Depression and a world war, and they were just strong women. I certainly didn’t see myself as being dainty.’

Concert For America: Stand Up, Sing Out! - Show

The star was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 (Picture: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images,)

Reddy also reached number one with Delta Dawn and Angie Baby, and had 24 entries on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart, including Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), Peaceful and Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady. 

Her final single came in 1998, with Surrender, but after retiring from the stage, Reddy returned to performing in 2012, and sang an a cappella version of I Am Woman at the Women’s March in Los Angeles in 2017.

Reddy also had a successful acting career, appearing in films including Pete’s Dragon and Airport 1975, for which she won nominations for the Oscar for best original song for Candle In The Water and the Golden Globe for most promising newcomer respectively.

On the stage, she starred in Shirley Valentine, Blood Brothers and Anything Goes.

Reddy was married three times – to Kenneth Claude Weate, with whom she shared daughter Traci, Jeff Wald, who she shared son Jordan with, and Milton Ruth, who she divorced in 1995 after 12 years of marriage.

Reddy spent the last years of her life in a celebrity care home in LA, after being diagnosed with dementia in 2015.

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Credit: Original article published here.

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