Australian singer Helen Reddy, known for her 1972 hit I Am Woman, has died at the age of 78 in Los Angeles.
Her children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers, confirmed her death on Wednesday morning in a statement on Facebook.
“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 wrote.
“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.”
Reddy had been diagnosed with dementia in 2015, and had been out of the public eye for a number of years before her passing. She had been living in a nursing home in Los Angeles for professional entertainers.
Born in Melbourne in 1941, Reddy remains one Australia’s biggest ever music success stories, winning at the Grammy awards and topping the US charts multiple times.
Her 1972 anthem I Am Woman, became the soundtrack of the women’s movement, with the song’s opening lyrics, “I am woman, hear me roar… In numbers too big to ignore” turning her into a feminist icon.
Reddy won a Grammy for I Am Woman, and in her acceptance speech, she famously thanked “God, because She makes everything possible”.
“Nobody was singing songs about women and I thought it was high time that they did,” she said.
As a 24-year-old single mother, Reddy moved to New York with no more than $US200 to her name, and overcame years of hardship to become the world’s top selling female recording artist in the early 70s.
A biopic of Reddy’s extraordinary life, also titled I Am Woman, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, and is available to stream in Australia on Stan.