K.T. Oslin, a three-time Grammy-winning country singer and songwriter, died on Monday after battling Parkinson’s Disease and being diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, according to The Rolling Stone. She was 78.
Oslin won a trio of Grammys in the late 1980s for her songs “80s Ladies” and “Hold Me.” She took home best country vocal performance by a female for “80s Ladies” in 1988, then won the same award and best country song for “Hold Me” in 1989. The singer-songwriter also topped the charts with her 1990 song “Come Next Monday.”
At the Country Music Awards, she was named the 1988 female vocalist of the year, and “80s Ladies” earned the song of the year award. It was the first time a female songwriter took home the prestigious honor.
Oslin, born Kay Toinette Oslin in Crossett, Ark., began her rise to country stardom by performing in folk acts in the ’60s and starring in theatrical productions on and off Broadway in the ’70s. It wasn’t until she was well into her 40s that she found major success as a country singer, following her discovery in Nashville by producer Harold Shedd during the mid-’80s.
When Oslin ceased touring in the early 1990s, she pivoted her career toward acting, appearing in TV series, such as “Paradise,” “Evening Shade” and some made-for-TV movies, along with hosting late-night shows. She released a greatest hits album in 1993 titled “Songs From an Aging Sex Bomb.” In 1996, she was among one of the first artists to embrace the emerging Americana genre with her album “My Roots Are Showing,” which she co-produced.
Prior to retiring, she recorded two more albums: 2001’s “Live Close by, Visit Often” and 2015’s “Simply.” Her legacy was recognized in 2014 with her induction into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
Throughout her career, an array of artists paid tribute to Oslin, such as Sissy Spacek, who cut “Lonely but Only for You” in 1983 and The Judds, who recorded “Old Pictures” in 1987. Anne Murray and Dan Seals are also among those who interpreted Oslin’s material.
Oslin would go on to influence several of today’s songwriters, including Grammy-nominated country music singer Brandy Clark, who remembered her in a Twitter thread as “Larger than life, smart, funny, elegant, beautiful…the list could go on and on” after the two met in 2013.
I’ll never forget the night that I opened for Mike Reid at the Franklin Theater in 2013. My friend Robert Filhart asked if he could bring someone backstage. I didn’t know that that someone was KT Oslin until she blew through the door with him like something out of a movie. pic.twitter.com/JmPLJcR7bx
— Brandy Clark (@TheBrandyClark) December 21, 2020