Helen Reddy's iconic recording, "I Am Woman, (Hear Me Roar)," was the clarion call for women of the 1970s and 1980s to shed their timidity in the workplace and compete with men on their level. A headliner for two decades, she was the first Australian to receive a Grammy Award and top the charts with more than a dozen hits, among them "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady," "You and Me Against the World," "Angie Baby" and "Peaceful."

Along with her own series, "The Helen Reddy Show," she was a favorite guest on "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Muppet Show" and appeared on stage in "Blood Brothers," "Love, Julie," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," "Call Me Madam," "Anything Goes" and in the title role of "Shirley Valentine." After the multitalented artist delved into new fields, she forsook show business for a decade until a chance duet with her sister at a party guided her back to her first love. This week, she stops at the Barns of Wolf Trap for two evenings on a coast-to-coast tour.

"A guest asked if I would sing with my sister, so I was happy to oblige," she said, "When I heard my voice coming through the mike, I realized that it was as good as ever and I had a flash of guilt that helped me decide to get back in music. Audiences always expect to hear some of my hits, but I recorded many beautiful ballads that I was never asked to sing live. Because the record company insisted on hits, they promoted them instead of my favorites.

Laughing, she said, "One song I'll never sing again is 'Leave Me Alone,' Its lyrics were that phrase repeated over and over again. Obviously, the lyricist didn't sit up all night thinking of something to write. I asked myself, 'Why am I singing a song that is basically twaddle?' Now I look for something with more gravitas, so this program consists of a lot of beautiful songs that may not be as familiar to my fans as the ones they associate with me."

Vocalist Helen Reddy
» Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap
» When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday
» Info: $45; 877-965-3972; wolftrap.org.

Taking her own advice to expand one's world, Reddy has spent the last few decades writing, researching and studying. Interest in her family history spurred her to become a founding member of the Tasmanian Genealogical Society and to speak at the Mormon Church's 1991 International Genealogical Congress. While investigating past recorded lives, she became intrigued with reincarnation and past-life regressions. To learn more, she trained as a clinical hypnotherapist and became a practicing member and Patron of the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists.

"It goes back to age 11 when I had an out-of-body experience and saw myself lying on the ground," she said. "I thought I was dead. It was not until I took a course from Dr. Thelma Moss, head of the UCLA parapsychology laboratory, that I received validation that the spirit and the body are two separate things. After learning that the spirit never dies, but has many lives, I wanted to help people by guiding them to recall their past experiences."

Reddy explains this theory in depth in her autobiography, "The Woman I Am," in which she gives intriguing examples of noted people who have lived many lives. Just as she has been a role model for her generation, she admires women who have made significant contributions to society, none more than Hillary Clinton, whom she regards as the greatest role model for today's women.

"I've always loved performing at Wolf Trap and look forward to being there again," she said. "I hope the audience likes the songs I have chosen because they are the ones I always preferred over the hits and wanted to sing for my fans."