Country music has lost its “’80s Lady.”
Singer-songwriter K.T. Oslin has died after a battle with Parkinson’s disease and COVID-19, a friend confirmed to Rolling Stone. She was 78.
Oslin was the first woman to win the Country Music Association Awards’ top honor for Song of the Year in 1987 with her hit “80’s Ladies,” of which she was the sole composer.
The Arkansas native, born Kay Toinette Oslin, was 45 by the time she hit mainstream success with the award-winning ballad.
“I thought it would be a song that would be great to do live in concert,” she told CMT of the song, about a trio of rambunctious bra-burning women. “I thought it was one of those show pieces. I never dreamed or thought it would be a single.”
Oslin won a 1988 Grammy for her performance of the female empowerment anthem, and took home another for her twangy torch song, “Hold Me.”
Subsequent top 40 hits included “I’ll Always Come Back,” “Do Ya,” “Hey Bobby,” “This Woman” and “Come Next Monday,” among others.
“K.T. Oslin was a pioneer in every sense of the word. Oslin shattered long-standing industry norms of who got a shot at making it in the business,” according to a statement by singer Chely Wright.
Nearly two decades before her chart success, Oslin appeared on Broadway in “Hello, Dolly!” and “Promises, Promises.” She made her feature film debut in 1993 opposite River Phoenix and Sandra Bullock in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Thing Called Love.”
In 2001, Oslin revealed to Oprah Winfrey that she had survived quadruple bypass heart surgery — which spurred her to step away from the rigors of public life and touring for some time.
However, the genre trailblazer stepped back into the spotlight when she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
“Nashville was absolutely gobsmacked by her genius and the gatekeepers didn’t even have a chance to decide whether or not they’d let her in,” Wright said. “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.”
“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,’ ” Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association CEO, said in a statement.
“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.”
Author: Lauren Steussy
Source: NY Post: K.T. Oslin, country singer of ‘80’s Ladies’ fame, dead at 78