Helen Reddy, the Australian singer behind the iconic hit ‘I Am Woman’, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 78. Reddy’s passing was confirmed earlier today by her children Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers in a statement on the singer’s 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,” the statement reads. “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’s longtime friend Jim Keaton, who also ran Reddy’s fan page, released a lengthy statement eulogising Reddy earlier today.
“I am so very thankful to Traci and Jordan for sharing their mother with me. And to Helen for adding more to my life than I can ever explain or describe. She always left me feeling loved (even when I got on her last nerve!) and that I mattered. That, in itself, is a rare and precious gift that I will treasure for the rest of my life,” reads part of Keaton’s memorial.
Reddy was born into a show business family in Melbourne in 1941, and began pursuing a music career after moving to the US in the 60s. Reddy had a long string of hits throughout her career such as ‘Delta Dawn’ and ‘Leave Me Alone (Red Ruby Dress)’, but it was the anthemic ‘I Am Woman’, written with Ray Burton and released in 1972 that saw her catapulted into a feminist icon with its lyrics of empowerment. She went on to win a Grammy Award for the song, giving an acceptance speech in which she thanked “God, because She makes everything possible.”
Reddy was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, and had been living in a nursing home in Los Angeles since.
Last year, the Unjoo Moon-directed biopic I Am Woman was released, following Reddy’s life and career, with Tilda Cobham-Hervey in the lead role.