R.I.P. Helen Reddy: “If I have to, I can do anything”

Helen Reddy 1975. By Francesco Scavullo – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22417162

From The New York Times (Anita Gates):

Helen Reddy, the Australian-born singer whose 1972 hit song “I Am Woman” became the feminist anthem of the decade and propelled her to international pop-music stardom, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was 78.

The death was confirmed by her children in a message posted on her official fan page on Facebook…

“I Am Woman” reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts at the end of 1972 (a good six months after it was released — individual call-in requests helped build radio play) and earned her the Grammy Award for best female pop vocal performance. She was the first Australian-born artist to win a Grammy and the first to make the Billboard 100 record charts.

Some male observers called the song — beginning with the words “I am woman/ Hear me roar/ In numbers/ Too big to ignore,” sung by a 5-foot-3 soprano — angry, man-hating, dangerous or all three.

“That simply underlined the many things women needed liberating from,” a writer for Variety reflected in 2019. “Nobody called Sinatra a menace when he sang ‘My Way,’ a no less straightforward hymn to self-determination.”

During the 1970s, three of Ms. Reddy’s songs — including “Delta Dawn” and “Angie Baby” — went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Three others — “You and Me Against the World,” “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)” and “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” — made the Top 10. More than three decades later, The Chicago Tribune declared her the “queen of ’70s pop.”

Helen Maxine Lamond Reddy was born on Oct. 25, 1941, in Melbourne, Australia, the only child of Max Reddy, a writer, producer and actor; and Stella (Lamond) Reddy, an actress whose stage name was Stella Campbell. Her father was in New Guinea, serving in the Australian Army, when she was born. The Reddys performed on the Australian vaudeville circuit, and Helen began joining them onstage when she was 4…

Survivors include her two children, Traci Wald Donat, a daughter from her first marriage, Jordan Sommers, a son from her second, her half sister, Toni Lamond, an Australian singer-actress, and one grandchild…

In a 2013 interview, Ms. Reddy seemed philosophical. “I am at the age where I can just kick back and say what a wonderful life I’ve had,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald. And she laughed when one very familiar question came up: whether she was nervous the first time she went onstage.

“I don’t remember the first time I went onstage,” she said.

Leave a Reply