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

Helen Reddy signs an I Am Woman poster in Hollywood in 2013

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image captionHelen Reddy rose to fame in the 1970s

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

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

Her children Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers described her as a “wonderful mother, grandmother and a truly formidable woman”.

“Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that his voice will live forever.”

Reddy had a string of pop and rock hits in the 1970s, but is best known for the 1972 anthem I Am Woman, a rousing tune that became prominent in the women’s liberation movement.

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A dormant success, it has sold millions of copies worldwide, making Reddy the best-selling female artist globally for two consecutive years.

In collecting her 1973 Grammy Award for Best Female Singer, Reddy thanked “God she makes it all possible.”

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image captionHelen Reddy became a feminist icon for her hit song

Born in Melbourne in 1941, Reddy was raised in an show business family with acting parents and performed regularly as a child.

After winning a talent contest in Australia, her prize ticket took her to New York City in the 1960s, where she auditioned for a record deal.

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

Her first hit, I Don’t Know How to Love Him, was followed by a number 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 he wrote the lyrics – with lines like “I’m a woman, hear me roar” and “I’m strong, I’m invincible, I’m a woman” – after struggling to find other songs that reflected her pride in being a woman.

In between international tours, he also hosted a season of the Helen Reddy Show on NBC TV in a prime time slot in 1973.

A year later she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Diagnosed with dementia in 2015, he spent the last few years of his life in a celebrity nursing home in Los Angeles.

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

Related topics

  • Australia

  • Feminism

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