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

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

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Musician K.T Oslin has passed away at 78. The triple Grammy winner and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer died earlier Monday morning (Dec. 21).

According to Music Row, it is currently unclear what the cause of death is. But doctors reportedly diagnosed Oslin with COVID-19 last week. This year several musicians have succumbed to the virus including Charley Pride, Joe Diffie, and John Prine. Since 2016, Oslin has lived in an assisted-living facility after a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

Oslin grew to prominence later in life, becoming an inspiration to people everywhere. 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.

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. Olsin Got Her Break in the 1980s

Born on May 15, 1942, Kay Toinette Oslin always wanted to be a singer. She began her career singing folk music in her hometown of Houston, Texas. As a young adult, Oslin transitioned into stage performance and musicals, touring 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.”

During her downtime, Oslin began writing her own songs and slowly started a career in country music. She would make trips to Nashville to perform. During this time, she started in ad jingles and played extras such as in Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 music video for “Glory Days.”

During the early 1980s, her songs began to take off after being recorded by the likes of Gail Davies, Sissy Spacek, and others. Oslin signed a record deal and produced “Wall of Tears” and later “80’s Ladies.” That song turned Oslin into a bonafide hit sensation.

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 year and performed a sold-out show at The City Winery.

Oslin will be remembered for the music she leaves behind and the joy she brought her listeners.