K.T. Oslin, '80s Ladies' singer, dead at 78

K.T. Oslin, '80s Ladies' singer, dead at 78


K.T. Oslin, a country music singer and songwriter who came to fame with her anthem "80's Ladies," has died, according to a statement from the Country Music Association.

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 the first woman to win the CMA Award for song of the year in 1988 for "80 Ladies." She also won multiple Grammy and ACM Awards during her career. Some of her other hits include "Hold Me" and "Come Next Monday."

"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.

Oslin was inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
Numerous country music artists paid tribute to Oslin on social media following news of her death.

"...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 Chely Wright in a tweet.

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.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Chely Wright's first name.

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.

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.