As active in social causes as ever, Australian-born singer Helen Reddy is coming to Salt Lake City Monday to help in a Christmas concert to benefit the city's homeless.
A resident of Santa Monica, Calif., Reddy, 49, says she sees the plight of the homeless every time she goes to town."I'm very familiar with it locally," she says. "Let's face it, they (the homeless) can't go any farther west. They've been pushed right up against the Pacific Ocean.
"It's obvious the federal government cannot or will not, or perhaps shouldn't, do anything about it. So there need to be more things done at the local levels so funds aren't siphoned off into some bureaucracy."
In Salt Lake's case, one local effort is the Holiday-In-Concert on Monday at 8 p.m., sponsored by KSL-TV and the Salt Lake Community Services Council. After a warm-up act by On-Stage Productions, a song-dance group of local talent ages 8 to 24, Reddy will take the mike for a concert that will include Christmas carols, old hits, such as "Delta Dawn" and "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady," and some material from her new album.
Tickets are $12.50 and $15.
Reddy will be coming to Salt Lake on her way back home from Stockholm, Sweden, where she is participating in a United Nations-sponsored satellite broadcast called "Children's Summer Village," which will benefit poor children throughout the world.
"I tend to lean toward anything for women or children," said Reddy in a recent interview with the Deseret News. "Battered and abused women and children - those are the ones that tug at my heartstrings the most."
In addition to her charity work, Reddy has produced her first album this year on her own label. "Feel So Young" is described by Reddy as "a mix of old standards and new songs. It has very much a jazz sound to it."
Releasing the album on her own label gave Reddy complete artistic control over its production. But that's not the only reason.
Enter another Reddy cause: the environment.
"I wanted control of the packaging. There's been a lot of arguing about CD packaging." The long cardboard box it comes in is wasteful, Reddy says, and so she's using a reusable box. Reddy says her CD packaging uses 90 percent less plastic and 70 percent less paper than conventional packaging.
"We also use water-based ink and 100 percent recycled paper."
You can tell she's serious about protecting the environment because she doesn't hesitate to criticize other artists for hypocrisy.
"I know that Sting has made a big deal about saving the rain forests and so on, but his company owns the patent on the old (compact disk) packaging so he's not motivated to change."
Always the feminist, Reddy says she sees protecting the environment as a woman's issue, suggesting that there is a direct link between the rise of women in power and the increased consciousness of the environment. ("I see everything as a woman's issue," she says later.)
"Men tend to concern themselves with the financial bottom line. Women tend to focus on the greater needs of society as a whole."
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Reddy grew up in a musical family that performed professionally. By age 16, Reddy was an established star in her country, eventually landing her own variety show in Sydney. She came to the United States in 1966 and worked her way to stardom by 1970, when she was signed with Capitol Records to do the single "I Don't Know How to Love Him," which was on the charts for 22 weeks. An album by the same name was released in 1971 and included what is probably her most famous song, "I Am Woman," which became a sort of anthem for the women's movement in the 1970s.