K.T. Oslin, a multiplatinum country singer-songwriter who won three Grammys including one for her breakout single “’80s Ladies,” died today. She was 78. She had been battling Parkinson’s disease and living in an assisted care facility for several years and recently was diagnosed with Covid-19. No official cause of death was announced.
Oslin was a rare female late bloomer in the country music industry. She finally hit in 1987 with the top 10 country tune “’80s Ladies.” She was 45 and had made her first record 23 years earlier. Oslin also had the chart-topping country smashes “Do Ya” and “I’ll Always Come Back,” all of which were from her RCA album ’80s Ladies. That disc topped Billboard Country LPs chart and peaked at No. 68 on the pop albums chart.
She followed up with another platinum LP, 1988’s This Woman, which featured the country chart-topper “Hold Me” and No. 2 hit “Hey Bobby,” and the 1990 gold disc Love in a Small Town. The latter generated Oslin’s fourth a final No. 1 country single, “Come Next Monday.”
During her career, Oslin won four Academy of Country Music Awards, including Top New Female Vocalist in 1987 and Top Female Vocalist the following year. She won the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year Award in 1988 and Song of the Year for “’80s Ladies.” She also won back-to-back Grammys for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, in 1988 (“’80s Ladies”) and ’89 (“Hold Me”) and another for Best Country Song (“Hold Me”) in 1989.
She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018 and the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame four years earlier.
Born Kay Toinette Oslin on May 15, 1942, in Crossett, AR, she grew up in Houston. Oslin sang in a folk trio with Guy Clark in the 1960s, making her recording debut in 1964.
Oslin also performed in musical theater during the mid-’60s, including the Hello, Dolly! touring production. She later toured with that show’s star Carol Channing, before returning with it to Broadway. She also appeared in the late-’60s Broadway shows Promises, Promises and Darling of the Day.
Before scoring her own chart records, she penned some hits for other artists in the 1980s including Dottie West, the Judds and Sissy Spacek. After her meteoric chart rise had ebbed, Oslin’s songs were recorded by several artists during 1990s such as Anne Murray, Dorothy Moore and Dusty Springfield. She also became a regular on the talk-show circuit.
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