World Mourns Loss Of Feminist Icon, Helen Reddy

Reddy became a feminist poster child following the release of her hit, “I Am Woman.”


Tuesday 29 September was a sad day for fans of Helen Reddy, and feminists alike.  In a heartfelt post to Facebook, Reddy’s children Traci and Jordan, shared the news: “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.” 

Reflecting on her legacy, it’s fair to say the multi-talented singer was also unstoppable. Born into a show-business family, Reddy began her career, singing on radio and TV stations at only four years old. Still, despite having a foot in the door, the path to success was far from linear for the Australian-born singer, actress, and activist. After winning the talent show Bandstand in 1966, and with a potential record deal up for grabs, Reddy — by now a single mother — moved to the US with Traci, who was just an infant. Unfortunately, major setbacks ensued as Mercury Records deemed her audition unsuccessful and didn’t want to take her on.  

Skint but persistent, Reddy decided to stay in NYC and make things work, and by 1971 she was on her way to stardom with the Jesus Christ Superstar track, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” Her biggest and best-known single, “I Am Woman,” came the following year and won several awards, including a Grammy. Pit stop: If you haven’t heard the song before, do yourself a favor and listen to it right now. It’s withstood the test of time for a reason — see the lyrics: “I am woman hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore,” “you can bend but never break me 'Cause it only serves to make me, more determined to achieve my final goal.”  

The song was inevitably adopted by second-wave feminists who loved its bold and brilliant sentiment, and by director Unjoo Moon, who’s film of the same name, tells Reddy’s incredible story. Asked about the track by the Chicago Tribune, she exclaimed, “I think it came along at the right time. I’d gotten involved in the Women’s Movement, and there were a lot of songs on the radio about being weak and being dainty and all those sorts of things. All the women in my family, they were strong women. They worked. They lived through the Depression and a world war, and they were just strong women. I certainly didn’t see myself as being dainty.” Although no longer with us, Helen Reddy, who passed aged 78, left behind a legacy that will remain. As her children so eloquently put, “our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever.” 


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