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‘I Am Woman’ singer Helen Reddy dies at 78

Throughout the 1970s, the Australian-born Reddy made music that appealed to young and old fans alike.
Singer Helen Reddy, shown here at a Hollywood gala in 2015, died Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Singer Helen Reddy, shown here at a Hollywood gala in 2015, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. [ ROB LATOUR | Rob Latour/Invision/AP ]
Published Sep. 30, 2020

Singer Helen Reddy, whose best-known song I Am Woman served as a feminist anthem during the 1970s, has died at the age of 78.

Reddy had reportedly been fighting dementia.

She died Tuesday, according to a social media post by her children.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy ... in Los Angeles,” reads the Facebook post written by her children Traci and Jordan. “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, Australia, in 1941, Reddy achieved early pop-chart success in the U.S.

Her first American single, I Don’t Know How to Love Him, raced into the Billboard Top 15 in 1971. One year later, she would hit No. 1 with I Am Woman.

The song’s opening lyrics: “I am woman, hear me roar / In numbers too big to ignore / And I know too much to go back and pretend” would serve as a catalyst for the burgeoning women’s liberation movement.

Appearing on the soundtrack to the 1972 feminist film Stand Up and Be Counted, starring Jacqueline Bisset and Stella Stevens, the song resonated with its predominantly female moviegoers.

In 1973, Reddy scored her second No. 1 with Delta Dawn and topped the charts again in 1974 with Angie Baby.

Also, in 1974, she became a naturalized American citizen.

Throughout the 1970s, Reddy’s music appealed to young and old fans alike. Her singles Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady, Emotion and I Can’t Hear You No More all topped the Adult Contemporary chart.

Reddy also was a steady fixture on TV and movies throughout the 1970s. One of her most notable movie roles was in the 1975 thriller Airport 75, in which she played the nun Sister Ruth.

In 1978, California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, where she served for three years.

Reddy married drummer Milton Ruth in 1983, but they divorced two years later.

- Storm Gifford, New York Daily News

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