Trailblazing Country Singer-Songwriter KT Oslin Dies at Age 78

She was the first female writer whose work won CMA Song of the Year, for her 1987 hit "80s Ladies"

K.T. Oslin In Central Park
Oliver Morris/Getty Images

Country singer K.T. Oslin, who hit it big with the 1987 hit “80′s Ladies” and won three Grammy awards, has died. She was 78.

Oslin’s friend Robert K. Oermann said she died in suburban Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday morning. He learned of Oslin's death from her aunt.

The actual cause of death has not been released.

Oermann said Oslin had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and lived in an assisted-living facility since 2016. She had triple bypass surgery in 1995. He said Oslin tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Oslin became one of Nashville’s most intriguing personalities, launching a country music career in her mid-40s and writing songs from a strong woman’s perspective.

Her albums “80′s Ladies” and “This Woman” both sold more than 1 million copies.

“K.T. Oslin had one of the most soulful voices in Country Music and was a strong influence for women with her hit ‘80’s Ladies,'" said Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association. “I was fortunate to work with K.T. on a number of television shows in the late 90s. She was always gracious to the crews and up-and-coming talent performing alongside her. She truly had one of the best voices in the history of our format. Our thoughts go out to her loved ones at this difficult time.”

In 1988, Oslin unseated Reba McEntire as the Country Music Association’s female vocalist of the year. McEntire had won it four straight times.

Her hit singles included “I’ll Always Come Back,” “Hold Me,” “Do Ya,” “Two Hearts,” “Hey Bobby,” “Didn’t Expect It to Go Down This Way” and “This Woman.” She also wrote many of her songs and played keyboard on several of them.

In her memorable music video for her 1990 No. 1 hit “Come Next Monday,” Oslin portrayed the bride of Frankenstein.

Always outspoken, she said in a 1990 Associated Press interview that country music was not necessarily her favorite genre.

“Some of it I like today, some of it I don’t," she said. “I don’t like the real twangy, hard core, straight ahead old style country music. I like some of it, but on a steady diet, no.”

The singer won two Grammy Awards in 1988 for her song “Hold Me." In the previous year, she took home a Grammy for her song “80's Ladies."

Kay Toinette Oslin was born in Crossett, Arkansas, but spent most of her childhood in Mobile, Alabama. As a teenager, she settled in Houston.

Ending up in New York City, she was a chorus girl in theatrical productions and then worked as a studio backup vocalist and ad jingle singer.

Her aunt loaned her $7,000 to finance a Nashville showcase performance, which caught the attention of RCA Records. She signed an RCA recording contract in 1986 at a time when most record companies were looking for singers almost half her age.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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