Australian Icon, Helen Reddy, Has Passed Away Aged 78

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Australian Icon, Helen Reddy, Has Passed Away Aged 78

helen reddy
Helen Reddy. Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns/Getty Images. 

Australian pop singer and feminist icon, Helen Reddy, best known for her roaring anthemic 1972 hit, “I Am Woman” has passed away, aged 78. 

Since being diagnosed with dementia in 2015, Reddy had been receiving care in a Los Angeles nursing home for entertainers. The sad news was confirmed in a statement from Reddy’s children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers, who posted to her official fan page: 

“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.”

Born in Melbourne in 1941, Reddy was a trailblazing star, becoming the first Australian to win a Grammy Award when she topped the charts with her signature anthem, “I Am Woman.” The song, co-written with Ray Burton in 1971, was one of three number-one singles off her debut album, I Don't Know How to Love Him; THE anthem of the burgeoning women's movement; and the first Australian-penned song to win a Grammy Award – all largely off the back off thousands of women calling into radio stations demanding it’s airplay. 

Helen Reddy | “I Am Woman” [Live at the 1971 Grammy Awards]

It’s safe to say, Helen Reddy had to fight hard to get that single to where it deserved to be. But she got to bask in the glory of her determination with one of music’s most memorable Grammy acceptance speeches, famously telling the audience: 

“I'd like to thank God because she makes everything possible. Nobody was singing songs about women and I thought it was high time that they did.”

Helen Reddy last toured Australia in 2014 and had lived in California near her children. Our thoughts go out to her family friends and peers at this difficult time. 

A biopic about Reddy's life, and her brave journey to international stardom, also titled I Am Woman, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and is due to be released on streaming services this month, see more here. 

Listen to Helen Reddy on Spotify:

Listen to Helen Reddy on Apple Music:

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