Helen Reddy’s "I Am Woman" tops the charts
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 toured regularly until her death in September 2020.
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.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Helen Reddy’s "I Am Woman" tops the charts." (Viewed on December 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/dec/09/1972/helen-reddy>.