Co-written by Ray Burton, Helen Reddy's 'I Am Woman' topped the Billboard pop hits chart in December 1972. 'I Am Woman' eventually became the unofficial anthem for the Women's Liberation Movement. "I think Women’s Lib is a term coined by the male-dominated media to make women look foolish. If they give it that label they don’t have to take it seriously. They have to take feminism seriously. I’m a feminist," Helen maintained.

"Male or female are two sides of a whole. There is meant to be that balance. The areas that have been neglected in our country have been female concerns – health care, care of the elderly, education, children, environment. Men are more concerned with weapons and the military, which is where most of our budget has gone. If we had 50 women in the Senate, instead of 100 men, you’d see more of a balance," Helen believed.

Of marriage, "There's more openness and concern in modern marriage. I’m always amazed at some older people (of the previous generation); there are some things they just can’t convey to each other. This is changing, and the country and family life are richer for it. There are many men who will never be able to change a diaper, but they’ve taken on more of the emotional responsibility. There’s more involvement in the child’s life, more concern, more long-range interest in the child’s personality growth, instead of just worry over what school or profession he or she will have," Helen made the observation.

Helen gave birth to her second child, Jordan, the week 'I Am Woman' became the No. 1 national single in December 1972. "I've tried to avoid sexist toys and clothes. Jordan has dolls and books from the National Organization For Women’s 'recommended' list. It’s harder with Traci (daughter from first marriage) to overcome peer-group pressure, with school and everything. The baby will be aware that he has a working mother. Mom isn’t someone who’s in the kitchen all the time."

In March 1973, Helen was awarded the Grammy for Best Female Vocal Performance. In her acceptance speech, Helen told the audiences, "I want to thank everyone concerned at Capitol Records; my husband and manager, Jeff Wald, because he makes my success possible; and God, because She makes everything possible." Of her second marriage, Helen remarked, "We can't separate our marriage and our careers. He does 50% of the work and gets 50% of the bread."

It was reported Helen co-wrote the lyrics of 'I Am Woman' based on her own life experience. "I had been looking for songs that said something about the change in consciousness. When I started to write 'I Am Woman' it was more of a personal statement. But I’m delighted over the way it came out.  I've been getting lots of mail about the song." At the time of its release, 7 of every 10 consumers buying 'I Am Woman' single were women. 

Of influence, "Was it Kennedy who called the presidency a 'glorious burden?' That’s how I feel about my work – it’s a lifetime responsibility. But so is being a parent. I try to be a good influence. Your personal philosophy colors everything you do, as do your spiritual beliefs and everything you feel. While I’m working, it’s my purpose to entertain. In private, I feel free to speak up for any cause I like."

After 26 years (from 1972 to 1998), Helen told Darrin Farrant, "A lot of things have changed since then, but I find it shocking that American women only got to vote in my mother's lifetime." Helen also pointed out, speaking to Randy Lewis of 'The Los Angeles Times', "During the last 10 years (1975-1985), a lot of things have changed in subtle ways so that most people may not be aware of them. For instance, 10 years ago (in 1975) you wouldn’t have had a woman (anchoring) the news because people thought a woman doing hard news wouldn’t be taken seriously. Now (in 1985), almost every news show has a female co-anchor. That’s one of the more visible changes."

Back in 1977, Helen spoke to David Sterritt of the 'Christian Science Monitor News Service', "People are too prejudiced to vote for a woman, regardless of qualifications, and campaigning makes 99 out of every 100 candidates into phonies." At the time, "There are certain issues women can get together on, things we all hate ... feminine issues that should unite all women. In the '50s, the women's magazines said you could be a career woman or a wife and mother, but it was better to be a wife and mother. Today (in 1977) they say it’s better to be a career woman. Nonsense! Women can do them both and do them both well … The family can still be a woman’s strength."

By 1990, Helen told David Pecchia, "I would like to think that the '90s are going to see an improvement, in fact, as it seems there are a lot more women running for public office. I thought that the '80s were very regressive; there was a lot of backlash during that decade. But also, as the population ages, older women aren’t as much of a threat. They’re more acceptable in positions of power." 

Helen reminded in an interview with Darrin Farrant in 1998, "The line about roar was meant to be about the roar of the crowd – the idea that there are many of us, that we can be heard. But for some reason people attach a lionize image to that word. The song has become a standard or a classic if you like. It's a song about feeling positive, it’s about self-affirmation, it’s not anti-anyone."

Born in Melbourne in 1941, the daughter of well-known Australian entertainers Max Reddy and Stella Lamond had been performing onstage since she was 4. Determined to make it big in the musical world, Helen entered and won a singing contest 'Bandstand International' sponsored by Phillips Records featuring some 1,358 contestants. The winning prize comprised a trip to New York City, an airplane ticket and an audition with a record company. 

"It was not a place you could hitchhike to or even drive your own jalopy to. You had to take either a boat or plane, and they cost money." Helen arrived in the Big Apple in 1966 with $400 in Australian currency in her pocket. Helen recounted, "It took phone calls virtually every day for 4 months before they finally made good their promise. By that time my daughter, Traci, had turned 3 and I had to pay half-fare for her. Under 3 she could have flown free. Further, the money was worth only $350 in American dollars and all of it went to Traci’s plane fare. 

"When I got to New York, someone from the record company took me to lunch, was pleasantly polite and wound up saying goodby and hoped I had a lovely visit. There was no audition. I was told that they had listened to a tape of my voice sent from Australia, and while it was very nice, it really wasn't for them." Helen also acknowledged, "I had come to America at precisely the wrong time. Everything was male groups and loud noise. There was just no market for lone girl singers.

"I came at the beginning of hard, acid rock. It was a very male period in music. There were no females happening at all then and that continued through 1969. Only about in 1970 did people start listening to lyrics and melodies again." On reflection, "You keep going in the lean times with the idea that the big break is just around the corner. But in reality there is no big break, instead just a series of steps. I’ve been singing for my supper for 25 years (to 1973). It comes as a shock to find people looking upon you as the new kid on the block.

"I’m glad, really, that I didn’t make it soon because I had all those years of being free to come and go as I pleased. I was free to be myself. Now the other thing is just beginning. People are beginning to recognize me. My life is not now entirely mine and Jeff’s and our children’s. But I think you always lose a little for every gain. It’s part of the price. 

"When I hadn’t made it by 27, I had to face the fact that maybe it wasn't going to happen. The late 20s is a big growth period for women. There’s a distinct psychological advantage to the early 30s. It was instilled in me, 'You will be a star.' So between the ages of 12 and 17, I got very rebellious and decided this was not for me. I was going to be a housewife and mother (to Traci)."

Helen met her second husband Jeff when he saw she sang at a party. At the time, Jeff was a talent agent for William Morris. He told her, "I got strong vibes that you're going to be a star, but it will take 5 years." Helen confessed, "If I’d known it would take 5 years I don’t think I could have held out. The fact it might be just around the corner is what keeps you going."

Five years after Helen arrived in the U.S, she recorded her first hit single, 'I Don’t Know How To Love Him' from 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. "The singles market is so down that you can have a No. 1 record without selling a million copies. But you still have to play radio stations off against each other to get the thing on the air." Speaking to Kathy Orloff of 'Chicago Sun-Times', "During an interview someone asked me if I actually think about Jesus when I sing that song, I had to tell her no.

"I don’t like the melody very much; it’s written on a major sixth, which is very difficult to sing. But I’ll probably be singing the song for the rest of my life, so I’d better start to like it. Actually, I do like it a lot better now. I used to think if I only had a hit record, then I could have the freedom I need to do what I want. It doesn’t work that way. You still have to cater to the public taste. Taste is moving away from loud noises and back to melody and lyrics. If I have been influenced by anyone, the influence has come from the work of Peggy Lee, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry. All 3 have staying power, all 3 are musicians."

On December 10 1974, Helen became a U.S citizen. "I always felt I was important. I was always ambitious. I had a strong desire for success. But success isn’t only money, it's using yourself. Jeffrey and I have always, both of us, had long-range goals. I can see myself as a 75-year-old. I've got a 40-year plan. I'm now 32 (in 1973). I can see myself being a very busy old lady at 64, 70.

"I'm never going to be 'Vogue' or 'Harper's' glamorous. The average woman can identify with me," Helen told 'The Los Angeles Times'. "Film is catching up with everything else. Radio leads the way. It’s the most immediate medium – you make a record and 8 days later it’s on the radio and in the stores, in everybody’s car and every housewife’s kitchen. New trends show up first on radio, which is the easiest outlet for new ideas. Then you see them on TV and last in films.” 

However "Culture in general is deteriorating today (by 1977). Standards are being lowered and a lot of garbage is being passed off as music, art and literature. Then there's journalism, where magazines like 'Look' and 'Life' are replaced by 'People' and 'Us'. Everything is aimed at appealing to the masses more. Educational standards have been lowered. This is reflected everywhere." 

By June 1990, "If 'I Am Woman' were coming out now, it could never become a hit. Nowadays, if something isn't up there in 6 weeks, they (the records companies) don't push it … I'm not a prolific writer. A lot of what I want to say has already been said so much better. But at the time I wrote 'I Am Woman', nobody had written the kind of feminist song I was looking for.

"I’m a singer first, a song writer second. I’d rather sing a good song somebody else write than a mediocre song I wrote. I’d rather think 10 years from now (1972-1982) somebody would put a Helen Reddy album on and it would still stand up. It's rather frightening being permanently on disc. When I think of it when I’m recording, it usually makes me go off key.

"There were times when I was pretty worried about whether I was in the right business or doing the right thing. But I plodded on, and began to depend on myself. I didn’t just come to the United States on a joyride … But when I got here nobody was into single female singers without groups, and I got dumped fast. I had my 3-year-old daughter with me. I was divorced. I was broke. I knew nobody.

"From there I started singing in Greenwich Village saloons and at Long Island weddings and college dances and sleazy places in New York, hoping, but sometimes rather despairing, about making it in a hard business. Get through that kind of period and you feel self-sufficient … I think that may be where the roots of my song 'I Am Woman' were started. The words 'I am strong; I am invincible; I am woman’ kept going 'round and 'round through my head. Eventually I wrote them into a song, and it hit."

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