K.T. Oslin, Country Singer-Songwriter of ’80’s Ladies,’ Dead at 78
K.T. Oslin, the first female songwriter to win the CMA Song of the Year award for her 1987 hit "80's Ladies," died Monday at the age of 78. Oslin had battled Parkinson's disease and, according to her last week, diagnosed with Covid-19 friend, journalist Robert K. Oermann, who confirmed her death.
Oslin, born Kay Toinette Oslin in Arkansas, was 45 when she released her debut album in 1987 with the '80s - a remarkable feat for a woman in country music and now nearly impossible. Along with the Top 10 title track, the LP included a pair of Country Number Ones in "Do Ya" and "I'll Always Come Back". But it was the nostalgic ballad "80's Ladies" - about a trio of girls who "burned our bras ... dinner ... and our candles on both ends" - that became their signature. "There's not much these ladies haven't tried," sang Oslin.
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"I wrote it bit by bit," Oslin told CMT in 2011. "It was an idea I had. I thought it was a song that would be great to play live in concert. I thought it was one of those show pieces. I never dreamed or thought it would be a single would. "
"80's Ladies" won Oslin - the song's only composer - the 1988 CMA Award for Song of the Year, making history as the first woman to win the award. At this ceremony, Oslin was also named singer of the year. She won a Grammy Award for her performance on "80's Ladies" and received two more Grammys for "Hold Me," which reached number one in 1989. Her fourth and final chart topper "Come Next Monday" "Arrived a year later."
In addition to her career as a soloist, Oslin had her songs recorded by a number of artists. Sissy Spacek edited "Lonely But Only for You" in 1983, Dottie West released "Where Is a Woman to Go" in 1984 and the Judds recorded "Old Pictures" in 1987. Anne Murray, Dusty Springfield and Dan Seals also interpreted Oslin's material. Oslin would influence a number of today's songwriters, including Brandy Clark, who remembered her on a Twitter thread: "Bigger than life, smart, fun, elegant, beautiful ... the list could go on and on."
Oslin stopped touring regularly in the early 1990s and began an acting career who appeared in television series and television films. In 1993 she released an album with the greatest hits, the title of which summarized the confident view of her getting older: Songs From a Aging Sex Bomb. "We should have music for all of us," she told the Nashville scene in 2013. "Music isn't just for a 20 year old."
Oslin appeared on stage occasionally and released more music, including 1996 Americana My Roots Are Showing ... and 2001 a collaboration with Raul Malo of Mavericks, Live Close By, Visit Oft. Her last album was 2015's Simply. In 2018, Oslin was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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