Helen Reddy, best known for her 1972 hit “I Am Woman,” has died at 78

Helen Reddy, best known for her 1972 hit “I Am Woman,” has died at 78

2015 G'Day USA Gala Featuring The AACTA International Awards Presented By QANTAS
Singer Helen Reddy attends the 2015 G’Day USA GALA featuring the AACTA International Awards presented by QANTAS at Hollywood Palladium on January 31, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Mike Windle/Getty

Singer Helen Reddy, best known for her 1972 hit “I Am Woman,” died on Tuesday, her children announced in a statement on her official Facebook fan page. She was 78. 

“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,” read the statement from Reddy’s children, Traci and Jordan. “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.”

CBS News has reached out to a representative for comment and is awaiting response. 

Reddy’s ex-husband, Jeff Wald, also posted a statement about her on Instagram. “It is with great sadness that I must announce that my first wife of 18 years and the mother of my two eldest children, Helen Reddy, passed suddenly and peacefully at the Motion Picture and Television Home today,” Wald wrote in the caption of a series of photos. 

“It took a while but we managed to become friends again after the divorce,” Wald’s post continued. “We had many ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Life is precious and short, tell the people you love how you feel and don’t hold grudges.”

Reddy was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, according to Entertainment Tonight. She had been living in a nursing home for professional entertainers in Los Angeles.

Reddy was the first Australian to win a Grammy Award. She won the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance award for “I Am Woman,” and later wrote an autobiography with the same name, the Associated Press reports. 

The songstress began singing as a young girl, as part of a well-known show-business family in Melbourne, according to the AP. Her cover of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” became a hit in 1971. Over the next decade, she produced 15 top 40 hits, with three reaching No. 1, the AP reports.

She has also performed on Broadway and in London’s West End. 

Reddy was inspired to retire after “I Am Woman” became her biggest hit in 1974. “That was 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,” she recalled. “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 gave up on show business in 2002 and started a new life in her homeland of Australia, getting a degree in clinical hypnotherapy. However, she made a return to the musical stage in 2012, singing both at a club in San Diego and at a high school benefit in Los Angeles, the AP reports.

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