Singer and activist Helen Reddy has died, aged 78.
The feminist icon, who performed songs like “I Am Woman”, “Delta Dawn” and “Angie Baby”, passed away on Tuesday, September 29 in Los Angeles, according to a family statement.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother…,” her children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers, shared via Facebook. “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 October, 1941, in Melbourne, Australia, Reddy made her stage debut as a child but turned her back on success Down Under to seek fame and fortune in the U.S. and first hit the Billboard charts in 1971 with “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, her version of the song from the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”. She scored her first number one over a year later with “I Am Woman”, a pro-feminism song she co-wrote, which went on to become an unofficial anthem of the women’s rights movement, while also earning the singer a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal.
It was also featured in the 1972 film “Stand Up and Be Counted”.
Reddy followed “I Am Woman” with another huge hit, “Delta Dawn”, in 1973 – and “Angie Baby” in 1974.
She also enjoyed chart success with tracks like “You and Me Against the World”, “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” and “Somewhere in the Night”.
The singer also fronted her own short-lived variety TV series, which debuted in 1973, as well as appearing on hit shows like “The Love Boat”, “Fantasy Island”, and “The Jeffersons”.
Helen tasted movie success too, with credits in “Airport ’75”, for which she landed a Golden Globe acting nomination, “Pete’s Dragon” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Her life story was chronicled in the 2019 film “I Am Woman”, starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Reddy, and Evan Peters.
Following the news of her death, the biopic’s director, Unjoo Moon, released a statement, which read: “I will forever be grateful to Helen for teaching me so much about being an artist, a woman and a mother. She paved the way for so many and the lyrics that she wrote for I am Woman changed my life forever like they have done for so many other people and will continue to do for generations to come.”
“She will always be a part of me and I will miss her enormously. On behalf of all of us involved in making the film ‘I am Woman’, producer Rosemary Blight and I extend our condolences to Helen’s family especially her children Traci and Jordan, her granddaughter Lily and her ex-husband Jeff.”