Award-winning Australian singer and actress Helen Reddy, best known for her 1971 hit “I Am Woman”, has died at the age of 78, her family has confirmed.
In a statement issued on the official fan Facebook page for Reddy, her children Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers revealed the sad news of the trailblazer’s death.
“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,” they began, adding, “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.”
Sommers also posted a sweet photo of his mother on Instagram, alongside three purple hearts.
The sad news comes following the release of Netflix film I Am Woman, which follows Reddy on her path to fame and examines how her hit track became a feminist anthem, though Reddy admitted in a 2013 interview that she had “no idea” the song would have such a huge impact.
“That was a big surprise,” Reddy told the Chicago Tribune. “I think it came along at the right time. 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 and all those sort of things.”
“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,” Reddy added.
Australian actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey portrayed the icon in the biographical film, which was directed by Unjoo Moon.
“Helen was a real trailblazer in that respect,” Cobham-Hervey told Adelaide Review of the anthem that served as the film’s title.
“She was asked to create this album and was looking for songs to sing on it, and there were just none that represented her experience as a woman. So she sort of went, ‘well, I’ll have to go and write one’. She tucked her daughter in, then was lying in bed when the words ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman’ started going through her head. That became her song.”
Reddy had reportedly been diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and had been living in a Los Angeles nursing home for professional entertainers.
She is survived by her two children, Traci and Jordan, as well as her grandchildren.