Humor & Entertain

"I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" – Helen Reddy at 70

I’m so pleased to hear about her again. I saw her perform in 1973 at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Kris Kristofferson was on the same bill. He was drunk and very late but she was marvelous.

She now says, “A lot of things that (women have) gained during the ’70s have been lost. And I think it is time to put woman forward in more places.” She recorded her most famous song “I Am Woman” in 1972.

She’s taken a low key start to performing again

She’s sang at a club in San Diego and for a high school benefit in the Panorama City section of Los Angeles. She’s also booked several more small club dates in Southern California. I’m not doing the greatest hits,” Reddy explained. “I’m doing the songs that I always loved. So many are album cuts that never got any airplay, and they’re gorgeous songs”
“Sometimes the words get lost in a song,” Reddy said. “And I think the words are very important. So I am reciting ‘I Am Woman.’ And I hadn’t realized, but it’s wonderful acting piece, as well. So, that will probably be the end of the set for me.” (See the famous lyrics below).

Why she stopped performing

“I was shown a modern American history high-school textbook, and a whole chapter on feminism – and my name and my lyrics (were) in the book,” she recalled. “And I thought, ‘Well, I’m part of history now. And how do I top that? I can’t top that.” So, it was an easy withdrawal.” Her lyrics from her feminist anthem “I Am Woman” are now included in Modern American History high school textbooks.

“I have very wide-ranging interests,” she said in a recent interview. “So, singing ‘Leave Me Alone’ 43 times per song lost its charm a long time ago.”

Her thoughts on being 70

Ten years ago she retired from performing, moved to her native Austraila and earned a degree in clinical hypnotherapy. She’s also developed a career in motivational speaking emphasizing spiritual power, personal responsibility, and global transformation.

She’s recently had catarac surgery but says she’s in “a very good place.” “I’m still very active, physically. I walk four miles a day. And I love the fact that I don’t care so much about things – things that were so terribly important when you’re younger, they don’t matter when you get older,” she said. “And it’s such a sense of freedom.”

Looking Back Over Her Career

In theater, Helen starred in London’s West End and on Broadway in New York. As a solo concert artist, she played Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, as well as the Royal Albert Hall and the Palladium in London. Helen was also the first western female performer invited to sing in the People’s Republic of China. In film, her starring role in Disney’s Pete’s Dragon continues to delight children. Besides the compilation, The Woman I Am: The Definitive Collection, all 12 of Helen’s original studio albums for Capitol are available for digital download worldwide.Her best-selling memoir The Woman I Am, reveals that at the height of her career, Helen’s world was shattered by the death of both her parents and, simultaneously, the news that she had a rare and incurable disease. A riveting, frank and ultimately brave memoir, she recounts the emotional highs and lows that have shaped her life as an artist and as a complex woman, with a rich inner life sustained by a strong spiritual faith.

Early Years

Born into a well-known Australian show business family, Helen Reddy has had a life and a career richer and more varied than anything she imagined as a girl in Melbourne. She dined on her birthday with the Prince of Wales, danced in the White House with the President, and had a tulip named after her in Holland. Reddy was immensely successful as a singer in the 1970s with numerous hit records including three U.S. #1 singles. She has sold more than 15 million albums and 10 million singles, and was the first Australian-born performer to win a Grammy award. In 1974, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Hear her original demo tape and more songs at The Official Helen Reddy Website Helen Reddy Official Fan Page


(Lyrics by Helen Reddy; Music by Ray Burton)
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back and pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh, yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
I am woman, watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh, yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
© 1970, 1972 Buggerlugs Music.
All rights reserved.

Biography and lyrics courtesy of www.HelenReddy.com, her website

How It Began

After securing a recording contract in 1971 with Capitol Records that yielded the hit “I Don’t Know How to Love Him“, Reddy – then living in Los Angeles—was asked for an album. “I Am Woman” was one of them. The composition was the result of Reddy’s search for a song that would express her growing passion for female empowerment. In a 2003 interview in Australia’s Sunday Magazine (published with the Sunday Herald Sun and Sunday Telegraph) she explained:

“I couldn’t find any songs that said what I thought being a woman was about. I thought about all these strong women in my family who had gotten through the Depression and world wars and drunken, abusive husbands. But there was nothing in music that reflected that.”

Reddy’s own long years on stage fueled her contempt for men who belittled women, she said. “Women have always been objectified in showbiz. I’d be the opening act for a comic and as I was leaving the stage he’d say, ‘Yeah, take your clothes off and wait for me in the dressing room, I’ll be right there’. It was demeaning and humiliating for any woman to have that happen publicly.”

Reddy credits the song as having supernatural inspiration. She said: “I remember lying in bed one night and the words, ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman’, kept going over and over in my head. That part I consider to be divinely inspired. I had been chosen to get a message across.” Pressed on who had chosen her, she replied: “The universe.” The next day she wrote the lyric and handed it to Australian guitarist Ray Burton to put it to music.

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  • Dianne Morris

    You were there too! I’m so glad to hear from someone else who was there that memorable night. Thanks for correcting me that the date was ’70 or ’71.

  • Dick Gildersleeve

    I thought I was at the Troubadour when Kris had spent the last day in jail and did come late and Helen was great. Thought it was in ’70 or ’71
    I didn’t live in LA in ’72

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