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Helen Reddy’s "I Am Woman" tops the charts

December 9, 1972
"I Am Woman" Album Cover - Helen Reddy
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Helen Reddy's Album "I Am Woman"

Australian-born singer Helen Reddy was searching for songs that “reflected the positive sense of self that I felt I’d gained from the women’s movement,” but she couldn’t find any. “I realized that the song I was looking for didn't exist,” she told Billboard magazine in 1973, “and I was going to have to write it myself."

“I Am Woman” was the only song Reddy would ever write, but it was enough for millions of listeners.

If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

“I Am Woman” was heard on AM radio stations everywhere in 1972.  Reddy’s lyrics said it all for a new generation:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore.

Born to a theatrical family and beginning her touring career at age four, Reddy was the first Australian to win a Grammy Award.  Beginning in 1971, she recorded 15 Top 40 hits, with three reaching No. 1 (“I Am Woman,” “Angie Baby,” and “Delta Dawn”).  Her featured performance as a nun in the comedy Airport 1975 led to her nomination for a Golden Globe as Most Promising Female Newcomer.  She also starred in the forgettable Pete’s Dragon, and sang the film’s Oscar-nominated song “Candle on the Water.”

Helen Reddy became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1974 and served for three years as California’s Parks and Recreation Commissioner.  She retired in 2002 to begin a new career as a hypnotherapist and published the autobiography, "The Woman I Am" in 2006.  She began performing again at a 2012 benefit for a high school in the Panorama City section of Los Angeles and now tours regularly.

Sources:  “’I Am Woman’ by Helen Reddy Tops the US Pop Charts”, History.com; “Singer Helen Reddy Emerges from Retirement,” CBS News; Biography, HelenReddy.com.

 

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Helen Reddy’s "I Am Woman" tops the charts." (Viewed on April 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/dec/09/1972/helen-reddy>.