Helen Reddy :: Roars Again in Ptown
Widely known as 'The Queen of 70s pop", Australian songstress Helen Reddy inspired a generation with her phenomenally popular music. Her success led to her winning the first American Music Award for "Favorite Pop/Rock Female" artist. Reddy was also the first Australian to win a Grammy award. Her signature anthem "I am Woman" served as a rallying cry for the second-wave feminist movement, and it remains a classic today (who can forget when Carrie Bradshaw and Co. cranked out a rendition in the "Sex In The City" movie?!)
Her music continues to speak to marginalized populations and she maintains a strong fan base comprised primarily of women and gays.
Reddy's resume also transcends the music scene - her career has featured work in television and political activism, with her passions including feminism and the environment (she worked in the California parks department). More recently Reddy stepped out of the spotlight upon returning to her native Australia, and worked as a hypnotherapist and public speaker. Reddy confesses that, although vastly different from music, the career change brought her great joy, because she was able to 'help a lot of people with their problems.'
Reddy has since returned to California full time, and intends to take it easier in her golden years. She will, however, continue to tour, albeit sporadically, across the United States. Reddy brings her show to Provincetown, MA on July 21st and 22nd and promises to deliver some old classics along with some new favorites -- audiences can expect something of a 'mixed bag.'
EDGE chatted with Reddy about music, activism and LGBT audiences.
Back in Ptown
EDGE: Are you excited to be coming to Provincetown on July 21st and 22nd? Do you like New England? Is it always a good crowd?
Helen Reddy: The crowds are great! I love the Provincetown, it's a beautiful area and it's a beautiful time of year. I don't get up to Boston much though because I'm not on the East coast very often -- I'm based in California.
EDGE: You're an LGBT icon. Is there something about your music that you think is particularly appealing to LGBT audiences?
Helen Reddy: I think that's a very big part of my audience, but I'm not entirely sure why. I appeal to lots of different types of people across the board -- sometimes I'll have three generations in an audience. And I've been singing since I was four years old, and audiences come and go! I imagine some of mine have already died! (Laughs) But like I said I do get several generations in my audiences, many of whom I'm sure are gay.
What to expect?
EDGE: What can audiences expect from your show in Provincetown?
Helen Reddy: Well there are a couple of the old hits that people want to hear, but there will be a few new songs that I enjoy! And honestly, I'd rather keep it a surprise!
EDGE: You're a famous feminist icon. How do you feel about that label and what are your thoughts on contemporary feminism? Are you still an activist?
Helen Reddy: Well I will always be a feminist, but times change and things change. But I like the fact that a housewife could be in the car and switch on the radio and hear me singing -- I like that I can connect with women that way.
EDGE: You have the huge hit that become associated with the feminist movement - 'I Am Woman' -- it is so popular that it almost precedes you. Do you think it has overshadowed your other work? Is it your favorite song?
Helen Reddy: Well yes it's iconic on it's own! But I wrote it, so I do love it. I enjoy my other songs, but there are so many other good songs that people have written, and I enjoy performing those too.
EDGE: You are also a well known environmental activist, is that something that you're still involved with and passionate about?
Helen Reddy: Well I'm old now! Right now my passion is trying to stay alive! (Laughs) I'm in my 70s now. But of course I'm still passionate about the environment and I'm gung-ho about many issues, I just don't march anymore -- I get blisters! (Laughs)
EDGE: You stepped out of the spotlight to pursue hypnotherapy and public speaking -- why the shift in career?
Helen Reddy: Well I went back to Australia, which is where I am from. I wanted to be with my family for a while, and it ended up being ten years. I enjoyed the hypnotherapy because it is one on one, but it isn't the same as being in front of an audience with the music -- they are two very different things. But I got pleasure out of the hypnotherapy, and I was able to help a lot of people with their problems.
EDGE: Now that you're older will you be slowing down, or will you continue singing?
Helen Reddy: Well I'll be touring as of next week, but it won't be an extended tour. They'll be a few dates - I'll be in Wisconsin on Saturday and then P-Town on 21st and 22nd.
EDGE: Is this a last tour, or can fans look forward to more shows?
Helen Reddy: There's no last tour! I don't go on long tours anymore, but I'll have a cluster of maybe three or four shows at a time.
EDGE: So you'll be leading a relatively quiet life from now on?
Helen Reddy: Yes! I have a 15-year-old granddaughter, so I enjoy the family time. But I like to get out occasional and deliver some songs and that's what I'll be doing in Provincetown. There will be a mixed bag, some of my classics and songs I enjoy that other people have written.
Helen Reddy appears at the Paramount @ the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA on Monday, July 21 and Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 8 pm. For ticket and additional information