Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy was Australia's Queen of Pop in the 70's and best known for her hit song I Am Woman.

(25 October 1941 - 29 September 2020)

Helen Maxine Reddy was born in Melbourne and went to Tintern Girls Grammar School in Ringwood. In 2002, she retired from performing and moved from Santa Monica, California back to Norfolk Island, and then Sydney.

In 2012, it was reported, Helen Reddy comes out of retirement.. Reddy is making her return to the musical stage this week, at a club in San Diego and for a high school benefit in Panorama City, outside of Los Angeles. She decided to return to performing after being buoyed by the warm reception she recently got when she sang at her sister's birthday party.

But don't expect to hear all of the old chart makers during her performances.

"One of the reasons that I'm coming back to singing is because I'm not doing the greatest hits,"Reddy explained. "I'm doing the songs that I always loved. So many are album cuts that never got any airplay, and they're gorgeous songs."

Reddy, 70, has been singing since she was a young girl, as part of a well-known show-business family in Melbourne. But she didn't score hugely until her 1971 hit cover of "I Don't Know How to Love Him,"the big ballad from the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar."Over the next decade, she produced 15 top 40 hits, with three reaching No. 1.

Source: cbsnews.com | 2012 The Associated Press

The Herald Sun says

Melbourne to global superstar

MUSIC guru Molly Meldrum has hailed the late musician Helen Reddy as a pioneer who helped open the door for other great Australian female voices.

Reddy died in Los Angeles on Wednesday after battling dementia for several years. She was 78.

Born in Melbourne, Reddy was the first Australian-born musician to score an American No 1 when her feminist anthem I Am Woman topped the US charts in 1972.

She was also the first Australian artist to win a Grammy.

"Helen really paved the way for Australian artists to make it in America,
Meldrum said.

"She opened the doors for Olivia Newton-John , she encouraged her to move to America, too, and that's when her career really took off. I know Olivia was always so grateful for what Helen did for her. However, whenever you would bring up her success with Helen, she was so modest she'd change the subject and try to talk about something else.

"Helen was someone who would help people, there's so many things she did behind the scenes. But she will be remembered as a pioneer, as well as a kind person."

I Am Woman, which Reddy wrote with Australian musician Ray Burton, became her first American No 1 single and sold more than a million copies . She followed it with two more US chart toppers - Delta Dawn in 1973 and Angie Baby in 1974.

Her children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers, said Reddy 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."

Ray Burton added: "This news comes as a huge shock. My sincere condolences to Helen's family."

I Am Woman continues to be influential. As well as being sung by Vanessa Amorosi at Reddy's ARIA Hall of Fame induction in 2006, newcomer Mia Wray covered the song for The State of Music this year. The song inspired this year's biopic, I Am Woman, starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey .

The film was released in Australia in August and the US and Canada this month. Reddy's granddaughter Lily Donat also performed on the soundtrack.

Reddy had met with writer and director Unjoo Moon, who entrusted her to make the story of her life.

"I will forever be grateful to Helen for teaching me so much about being an artist, a woman and a mother," Moon said.

"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."

Music writer Jeff Jenkins said Reddy was one of Melbourne's top musical exports.

"Four names are at the top of the list - Olivia Newton-John , The Seekers, Kylie Minogue and Helen Reddy," Jenkins said.

"Helen's remarkable journey started in a two-bedroom flat on Riversdale Road in Hawthorn and ended up on top of the American charts.

"She had an amazing career and led an amazing life. I'll never forget her acceptance speech when she was finally inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006: 'I think there is nothing more glorious than being a musician. What other job do you go to work and your boss says, Play!'

"Helen Reddy was a trail- blazer who literally helped change the world."

Reddy had 20 songs that entered the US top 100 in her lifetime, but she will always be remembered for I Am Woman.

Reddy said it was the right song for the times when it became a hit in 1972.

"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," Reddy said.

"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."

When Reddy announced her retirement from performing in 2002 she told US TV: "One of the reasons that I stopped singing was when I was shown a modern American history high-school textbook , and a whole chapter on feminism, and my name and my lyrics (were) in the book. And I thought, 'Well, I'm part of history now. And how do I top that? I can't top that.' So, it was an easy withdrawal."

Reddy published her memoir , The Woman I Am, in 2006, the same year she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, with the awards noting her groundbreaking work in music and opening of doors for musicians internationally.

In 2015 news broke that Reddy was suffering dementia and was being cared for at the Motion Picture and Television Fund's Samuel Goldwyn Center for Behavioural Health in Woodland Hills.

[email protected]

This article by CAMERON ADAMS is from the October 1, 2020 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition.


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