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View from Venus: Talking with an original venus, Helen Reddy

Sunday - 3/3/2013, 10:58am  ET

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Actress Helen Reddy attends the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts' 2nd AACTA International Awards at Soho House on January 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images for AACTA)

The legacy of 'I am Woman'

WTOP's Randi Martin talks to Helen Reddy

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Randi Martin, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Singer Helen Reddy gave many young women a voice in the 70s. When their own voice failed them, Reddy's mantra filled in.

I am strong.

I am invincible.

I am woman.

Reddy, who is on tour and playing at the Barns at Wolf Trap Thursday and Friday, talked to me about her tour, new cat and the iconic song "I am Woman."

"We had to actually force airplay," Reddy explains. "I couldn't get the record played on the radio. So many DJs and program directors would say, ‘We're already playing a female record.'"

Reddy, who had written the tune celebrating a woman's strength and perseverance, was not about to go down without a fight. She turned to TV variety shows and sang the song 19 different times before women starting burning up radio station request lines.

"The message in the song filtered through," she says. "Women drove that song."

She recorded the song in 1971 and then again in 1972 with more verses added. The song became an iconic female anthem, selling 1 million copies and winning Reddy a Grammy award in 1972.

It was played at National Organization for Women conventions and was used to promote the all women's network Oxygen. You heard it on the "Simpsons," "Sex and the City 2" and on stage at the Oscars in 2009 to celebrate the first Oscar ever won by a woman director, Kathryn Bigelow, for "The Hurt Locker."

"Ah, boy," Reddy laughs. "That was a moment!"

Upon telling friends that Helen and I had talked, every single one of them began singing, "I am Woman, Hear me Roar."

Not bad for a song written 42 years ago.

Watch Helen Reddy perform "I am Woman" in 1975:

Editor's Note: View from Venus is a regular blog by Randi Martin, who shares her thoughts on lifestyles and relationships.

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