Helen Reddy, whose feminist anthem “I Am Woman” rose to the top of the Billboard chart and became the sound of a movement in 1971, died at 78 on Tuesday, according to CNN.
"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. She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman," read a statement on Facebook from her children Traci Donat and Jordan Summers.
While an official cause of death has not been released, Reddy had had Addison's disease for decades. She had a kidney removed when she was 17. She also had had dementia since 2015, according to The New York Times.
As a struggling artist, Reddy left her native Australia for the heartbeat of the music industry in the United States and was unsurprisingly met with sexism. Her musical response to male executives controlling the narrative about women artists’ place in the industry dovetailed with the rise of the women’s liberation movement. The song became a number 1 hit and a cultural phenomenon — and it made Reddy a star. She won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1972.
Reddy went on to record other hits, including “Angie Baby” and “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady,” but nothing matched the influence of “I Am Woman” as part of the zeitgeist of the era.
The recent biopic I Am Woman, starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Reddy and directed by Unjoo Moon, explores the story behind the song and the woman who wrote and performed it.