K.T. Oslin, the country singer-songwriter behind the breakout hit “80’s Ladies” and four country No. 1s, died on December 21, according to the Associated Press. She was 78. Kay Toinette Oslin tried to make her country career happen for years before being signed to RCA Records in 1987, when she began performing under her stage name. At the time, it was a rarity for a woman to begin her music career in her mid-40s, especially in country. Her second single, “80’s Ladies,” reached No. 7 on the Billboard country chart, winning Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards and carrying her to a CMA Female Vocalist of the Year win, along with a Grammy. Her follow-up singles “Do Ya” and “I’ll Always Come Back” both hit No. 1 on the country chart. Both her debut 80’s Ladies and sophomore album This Woman reached platinum status in the U.S. This Woman also gave Oslin her third No. 1, “Hold Me,” which additionally won two more Grammys. Oslin scored her final No. 1 with “Come Next Monday,” off Love in a Small Town, her final album for RCA.
Oslin later released three more albums, most recently Simply in 2015. She also sang as a studio backup singer, performed in theatrical choruses, and cut ad jingles for a time in New York, according to the AP. She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. A friend told the AP Oslin died the morning of December 21 in suburban Nashville, where she lived in an assisted-living facility. She had Parkinson’s since 2015, and tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to the friend. No cause of death has been revealed.
“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, the CMA’s CEO, told the AP. “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.”