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Helen Maxine Reddy

I was regaining my independence after an unhappy marriage and celebrating my newfound freedom when Helen’s song, “I AM Woman” hit the radio waves.  

It wasn’t long before women all around me were singing this song at the top of their lungs and dancing around rooms all over the world. 

No surprise it is very much a part of our annual International Women’s Day and the song we at WOW resonates with as well. 

It was no surprise this AMAZING Australian born Woman showed her independence from a very young age making choices that weren’t always what her parents or husbands wanted her to make. 

This was very apparent and was the impetus for writing "I Am Woman" and her early awareness of the women's movement.

She was looking for songs to record which reflected the positive self-image she had gained from joining the women's movement but could not find any, so soon realized that the song she was looking for didn't exist.

She was looking for songs to record which reflected the positive self-image she had gained from joining the women's movement but could not find any, so soon realized that the song she was looking for didn't exist. She was going to have to write it herself. And she did! 

"I Am Woman" first appeared on her debut album I Don't Know How to Love Him, released in May 1971. It was the first US No.1 hit for an Australian and the first Australian song to win a Grammy Award. Helen became the world's biggest-selling female singer two years running, going on to sell tens of millions of albums worldwide.

Three decades after her Grammy, Helen discussed the song's iconic status: "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.

Helen was always destined for show business. Her father, Max Reddy, and her mother, Stella Lamond, were variety-show performers, and her half-sister Toni Lamond and the latter's son, Tony Sheldon, have been musical theatre mainstays. She made her singing debut with her parents' show in Perth in 1946, billed as Baby Helen Reddy.
Helen was an enthusiastic genealogist who researched her family's history extensively and founded the Genealogy to be addictive; it begins as an interest, becomes a hobby, then a passion, and finally an obsession. 

Not only with each generation uncovered does the number of people to investigate double, but so too does the desire to understand the forces that shaped them. While she did get answers to a lot through her research most was done on her mother's side so it still has some mystery to his heritage

In 2015, Helen was diagnosed with dementia and had been cared for by family and friends at the Samuel Goldwyn Jnr Centre for Behavioural Health.

After a 10-year hiatus (during which time she published her memoir The Woman I Am) she made a brief comeback to performing in 2012, and in January 2017 sang I Am Woman at an LA anti-Trump rally.

Her story was turned into the 2020 film I Am Woman by director Unjoo Moon and writer Emma Jensen. Tilda Cobham Hervey played Reddy with Chelsea Cullen providing the singing voice.

Helen died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Los Angeles on 29 September 2020, at the age of 78. 

Her sense of humour was illustrated when she joined Carol Burnett on a rather competitive duet. Her smile was both engaging and beautiful.

She left us with a song so powerful that it automatically lifts us up out of a down time with the very first words and leaves us feeling stronger both physically and emotionally in a matter of minutes! Thank You Helen!!!

Compiled & Contributed by HUGE fan, WOW founder Carolyn Shannon
Thank YOU to Our WOW Gal Angel Sponsor whose mission is connect people to their Guardian Angels in visible, colourful, reflections that are alive

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