The singer, whose career was celebrated in the 2019 biopic of the same name, was diagnosed with dementia several years ago
Helen Reddy, Australian singer best known for her 1972 hit anthem I Am Woman, has died at age 78
Reddy was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and was living in a Los Angeles nursing home for professional artists
A statement from Reddy’s children, Traci and Jordan, was posted on her official fan page Tuesday afternoon
« It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, » the statement read.
« She was a wonderful mother, grandmother and a truly wonderful woman Our hearts are broken But we take comfort in knowing that her voice will live on forever »
Reddy may have been dubbed the ‘Queen of Rock at Home’ by Alice Cooper, but her music captured the zeal of a generation of women radicalized by the Sixties and a nascent Second Wave feminist movement
Reddy became a star despite the rejection of record companies at the time, many of whom believed there was little money to be made in music by women In the early 1970s, Reddy’s songs topped the Billboard charts In 1972, she won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Voice for I Am Woman, becoming the first Australian to do so. She was the world’s best-selling singer in 1973 and 1974
By the end of his career, Reddy had 15 top 40 singles and three no 1 hits, including his most popular, I Am Woman, and had sold over 25 million albums in the US alone
Reddy was born in Melbourne in 1941 to a family steeped in the performing arts. She left school at age 15 to perform on the road with them, before embarking on an independent career
At the age of 20, Reddy met and married musician Kenneth Weate. The relationship was short-lived; after the end, Reddy returned to Sydney with her baby girl, Traci
She moved to New York City in 1966 with Traci after winning a talent competition that provided the winner with a potential recording opportunity for Mercury Records She was unsuccessful but not discouraged, and decided to stay in the United States and try to make a career as a singer, despite very little money and few prospects Due to problems with her visa, she traveled back and forth to Canada to work
In 1968, she met her future musical director Jeff Wald at a party The couple got married quickly and Reddy decided to stay in the United States
Reddy, Wald and Traci lived modestly until, after frequent lobbying, Wald managed to get Reddy the opportunity to record a single on Capital Records It was the planned B-side of this single, I Don’t Know How to Love It, from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which launched Reddy’s career, reaching No. 13 on the Billboard charts in 1971
I Am Woman was released the following year and in December it topped the charts, making Reddy the first Australian singer to have number one success in the United States.
I Am Woman sparked a string of hits for the Reddy, including Delta Dawn, Angie Baby, Leave Me Alone (ruby red dress) and You and Me Against the World In the mid-1970s, she was performing in front of crowds packed in Vegas, with figures like Joan Rivers and Barry Manilow opening for her
She has appeared on talk shows and variety shows including The Bobby Darin Show, The Muppet Show, and has held a recurring niche in co-hosting on The Midnight Special
Reddy also developed a small film and television career, including roles in the 1975 thriller Airport (1974) and the family film Pete’s Dragon (1977) Later in life she appeared as herself on Family Guy
Reddy’s music career fell apart in the 1980s, but I Am Woman still resonates in the industry, reappearing in movie and TV soundtracks and as a pop culture shortcut for the feminist emancipation In 2006 Reddy was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame
Former husband and Reddy manager Jeff Wald reflected in an article for The Guardian in August of this year on record companies’ attitude to Reddy’s success. « Record makers said: » How can you let your wife do this female bullshit? This will end his career! »He said« I won’t let her do anything I didn’t marry someone you have to ‘leave’ ”
His comments came as Reddy’s life and career was immortalized in a feature film, I Am Woman, directed by Unjoo Moon and starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Reddy
Moon paid tribute to Reddy in a statement on Tuesday, saying, “When I first met Helen Reddy, she told me that I would be in her life for many years to come. What followed was an incredible seven-year friendship in which she entrusted me with telling her story in a film that celebrates her life, her talents and her incredible legacy.
« I will be forever grateful to Helen for teaching me so much about being an artist, wife and mother She paved the way for so many people and the lyrics she wrote for I Am Woman have changed my life forever, as they have done for so many other people and will continue to do so for generations to come »
World News – UA – Helen Reddy, Australian singer of feminist anthem I Am Woman, dies at 78
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