Country Chatter

K.T. Oslin, 80’s Country Singer, Dead at 78


K.T. Oslin, the Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter who rose to fame with “80’s Ladies,” has died, according to a statement from the Country Music Association. She was 78.

It was currently unclear what the cause of death could be, but doctors reportedly diagnosed Oslin with COVID-19 last week.  Since 2016, Oslin has lived in an assisted-living facility after a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

Kay Toinette Oslin was born on May 15, 1942, and began her career singing folk music in her hometown of Houston, Texas. Later she moved into musical theatre and toured with the “Hello Dolly!” production in 1966. That production led her to Broadway and New York City where she appeared in “Promises, Promises,” “West Side Story” and “Darling of the Day.”

Oslin also began to write and slowly started a career in Country Music. She would often make trips to Nashville to perform and she started jingle writing and even played extras in music videos, including the Bruce Springsteen 1985 video for “Glory Days.”

She continued to work on her craft and when she was in her early 40’s she finally got her break. At 45, she recorded the She didn’t earn her big break in Nashville until she was in her 40s. But when she was 45, she recorded the sensation “80’s Ladies” in 1987. For that song, Oslin became the first female songwriter to win the CMA Song of the Year Award in 1988.

She followed up that success with the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award a year later. She also won three Grammy Awards, four ACM trophies, and made it into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

“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’. 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,” Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association CEO, said in a statement.

Country music artists paid tribute to Oslin on social media Monday following news of her death.

Travis Tritt recalled touring with Oslin at the beginning of her career, calling her a “brilliant song writer and one hellava lady” in a tribute posted on Twitter. “…the gatekeepers didn’t even have a chance to decide whether or not they’d let her in. K.T. Oslin didn’t ask anyone for permission to enter. She waltzed in with her brilliant songs, her unmatched intellect, her perfectly foul mouth and she changed everything— forever,” wrote singer and songwriter Cheryl Wright in a tweet.

Oslin continued to release records and perform at sold-out shows until she retired from music in 2015. She released her last album “Simply” that same year and performed a sold-out show at The City Winery.

Thoughts and prayers for Oslin and her family.