'Queen of Pop' Returns to Stage After 10 Years
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
In the 1970s, Australian singer Helen Reddy was nicknamed "the Queen of Pop." Her 1972 song "I Am Woman" became a Billboard Number One Hit, received the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and became an anthem of the feminist movement.
Between 1972-77, Reddy had more than a dozen additional U.S. Top 40 hits
In 2002, after a career that encompassed TV, film and theatre, in addition to music, Reddy retired from performing, went back to school, and earned a degree in hypnotherapy. Today, at the age of 72, Reddy is returning to the stage and Malibuites will have the opportunity to see her perform live at the Canyon Club, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills, on Saturday, Aug. 11.
"I was inspired by my sister," Reddy told The Malibu Surfside News. "In March, she had a major milestone birthday. She asked me to sing a duet with her at her party. It was so much fun. That was the start. I won't be performing on a full time basis, but I do love to sing.
"At 60 I went back to college. Got a degree in clinical hypnotherapy. I'm interested in the spiritual side. Past-life regressions, reuniting loved ones. I had an out-of-body experience when I was 11. It changed my life."
Reddy is also a motivational speaker.
She said, "I've never feared death. Back then you didn't talk about those things because they would lock you up. Now it's becoming part of science. That pleases me very much."
For the past 10 years, Reddy has lived in Sydney. "I spend most of my time there," Reddy said. "I live a few doors down from my sister, but my daughter's family lives on Point Dume, in Malibu. My granddaughter is a paddleboarder," Reddy said.
Reddy was born into a theatrical family in Melbourne, Australia. "I started out in theater," Reddy said. "We were a vaudeville family. I was on stage from the age of four. When TV finally came to Australia we moved to TV. I was a jazz singer to begin. I won a contest. That's what got me to the U.S. I went to New York, had a chance to perform. I kind of got the brush-off. DJs would say 'we already have a female artist.'"
Reddy, who famously thanked God "because She makes everything possible," when she accepted her Emmy award for "I Am Woman," said the song came from her growing awareness of inequality.
"There was a lot of pressure from the media to keep us in our place," she said.
The success of the song and its adoption as a feminist anthem was her proudest moment, she told The News.
Reddy added that she is concerned that the younger generation is losing some of the freedoms the women's rights movement of the 1960s and '70s fought for. "It's disheartening," Reddy said.
Reddy explored another aspect of women's empowerment on the stage in four different productions of "Shirley Valentine," Willy Russell's 1986 one-woman play that explores a Liverpool housewife's unexpected journey to rediscover her own self worth.
"Russell is a genius," Reddy said. "I was also in his play 'Blood Brothers' in London's West End. 'Shirley Valentine' is a tough piece for any actor. It's a two-hour monologue. I was rehearsing 'Shirley Valentine' during the day, performing in 'Blood Brothers' at night. It's a wonderful piece."
Reddy also made numerous film and TV appearances and penned an autobiography, but says she enjoyed her decade-long hiatus from performing. "I have a lot of interests," Reddy said. "I read a great deal. I have eclectic taste."
The audience at Tuesday's concert will get a sample of the artist's eclectic taste. "I'll be performing my personal favorites." she said. There are so many beautiful ballads that didn't get airplay. I'll also be performing jazz, and I'm taking an entirely different approach to 'I Am Woman,'" Reddy said.
Helen Reddy will be performing at the Canyon Club, Agoura Road on Saturday, Aug. 11. Tickets are available at www.canyonclub.net or by calling 818-879-5016.