Helen Reddy, the Grammy-winning singer behind the hit song "I Am Woman," has died. Reddy died Tuesday in Los Angeles, her children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers confirmed in a statement. 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," the statement said, according to The Guardian. "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." The outlet reports that Reddy had been diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and had been living in a Los Angeles nursing home for professional entertainers in recent years.
The Australian singer, also known for hits like "Delta Dawn" and "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady," was born on Oct. 25, 1941. At the age of 4, she made her debut on stage, leaving school at the age of 15 to perform on the road before launching an independent career. In 1971, she first hit the U.S. charts when her single "I Don't Know How To Love Him" reached No. 13 on the Billboard charts. The following year, "I Am A Woman" was released. That song would quickly become a feminist anthem, making it to No. 1on the Billboard Hot 100 in December of the following year, making Reddy the first Australian singer to have a number one hit in the United States. In 1972, she won a Grammy for best female pop vocal for the song. Throughout her career, Reddy charted 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including three No. 1s – "I Am Woman," "Delta Dawn," and "Angie Baby." In 2006, Reddy was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame, and just last month, a biography of her rise from single mother in New York City to hit artist, titled I Am a Woman, premiered.
Reddy, who also had several film credits to her name, is survived by her daughter Traci from her first marriage, to Claude Weate, and her son from her second marriage to Jordan Sommers. Following news of her death, fans have flooded social media with tributes.
We have lost a global feminist icon in Helen Reddy. For decades her song ‘I am Woman’ has given full-throated voice to our fight for gender equality. Every word still relevant, no message dated, including we have ‘a long, long way to go’. Her legacy will endure. Hear us roar.— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) September 30, 2020
The world, and especially the females of the world, lost an amazing performer yesterday when Helen Reddy died. I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR! #HelenReddyRIP— Lucyspin (@lucyspin1) October 1, 2020
RIP Helen Reddy, "You're a very special lady... 💟— Kellyx 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 🇬🇧 (@KellyParl) October 1, 2020
Oh my lord, I’ve only just read the awful news. I didnt know Helen Reddy as well many but I do know the impact she left on #BloodBrothers. Hugely loved & respected not just on BB but right across the industry. RIP Helen xxx— Daniel (Danny) Taylor (@DanielTayloresq) October 1, 2020
Sad to hear Helen Reddy gone..'I am woman' is evergreen and will be with me for ever. RIP.— Mala Mahadevan (@sqlmal) October 1, 2020
So sad to hear of the passing of Helen Reddy. Her music was powerful and will be remembered and played forever. 🙏😓— LaWanda (@lawanda50) September 30, 2020
Aw, Helen Reddy passed away. We used to sing “Delta Dawn” walking home from school. And we tried to emulate her insouciance & swagger. Which was hard cuz we were only kids & didn’t really understand the song. But that didn’t matter. We just loved her & wanted to be cool like her. pic.twitter.com/3S4AMCk0io— Jennifer Tilly (@JenniferTilly) September 30, 2020
Helen Reddy was a trailblazer for Australian feminism. She also demonstrated the power of song and music to inspire a progressive movement. “I Am Woman” is one of the great anthems of just such a movement. We honour her remarkable life. https://t.co/nyrJjelJE7— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) September 30, 2020
RIP Helen Reddy.
"You can bend but never break me— James Earl Kiawoin (@JEkiawoin) October 1, 2020
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I'll come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul"
Vividly remember when I first heard Helen Reddy sing “I don’t know how to love him” - goosebumps! And then to discover she was Australian. From Melbourne! Then... “I am Woman”! What a voice. What a woman. What a legacy 🙌🙏🏻❤️Heart goes out to family, Toni Lamond, Tony Sheldon— Magda Szubanski AO (@MagdaSzubanski) September 30, 2020
R.I.P. Helen Reddy a great Aussie icon.😢 pic.twitter.com/0oj1w0ZWQt— Rob Wade (@robwade91225) September 30, 2020
Thanks Helen Reddy - rest well 💕 pic.twitter.com/RRHPwcAYCp— JanetReid (@JanetRe90769271) September 30, 2020