The music world lost a luminary this week with the passing of icon Helen Reddy. I thought today, I’d take a look back at her music.
The Australian singer was born in Melbourne in 1941 to a family of musicians and performers. She reported that her first time singing on stage was at the age of 3. But though she performed regularly throughout her childhood and young adult years, it was her winning performance on Bandstand, a Sydney-based pop-music television show in 1966 that really launched her professional music career. The talent show prize was a ticket to New York City and an audition with a recording label. The audition proved to be an empty promise, but the experience showed Reddy that she wanted to pursue music in the U.S.
After a few false starts in New York and Chicago, by the 1970s, Reddy was a huge success, with 15 singles on the Billboard top 40 charts, with 3 hitting number 1. In 1974, at the very first American Music Awards, she won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist. Reddy had a solid television presence, too, with her weekly primetime variety show and a number of specials that were seen around the world.
Of course, Helen Reddy was best known for her iconic song I Am Woman, which became the symbol of empowerment for the women’s movement around the world. To this day, it still regarded as the movement’s enduring anthem. There has never been a time when that song or any of Reddy’s beloved tunes has come on that Beloved and I didn’t stop what we were doing and sing along. That’s saying a lot!
After a long career in music and activism, Reddy was diagnosed with dementia in 2015. She was living in a retirement home for Performers when she passed away unexpectedly last week.