KT Oslin, the first female songwriter to win the CMA Award for Song of the Year for her 1987 hit 80’s Ladies, died Monday at the age of 78. Oslin had battled Parkinson’s disease and was diagnosed with Covid-19 last week, according to her friend, journalist Robert K. Oermann, who confirmed her death.
Oslin, born Kay Toinette Oslin in Arkansas, was 45 years old when she released her debut album in the country in 1987. The ladies of the ’80s – a remarkable feat then for a woman in country music and an impossibility almost today. Along with the top 10 title, the LP included a pair of country Number Ones in “Do Ya” and “I’ll Always Come Back”. But the nostalgic ballad “Ladies of the 80’s” – about a trio of girls who “burned our bras … who … and our candles at both ends” – became her signature. “There weren’t too many of these ladies who weren’t tried,” Oslin sang.
“I wrote it one piece at a time,” Oslin told CMT in 2011. “It was an idea I had. I thought it would be a great song to play live in concert. I thought it was one of the plays. I never dreamed or thought there would be one. “
“80’s Ladies” won Oslin – the only songwriter of the song – the CMA Song of the Year Award in 1988, making history in this process as the first woman to win the award. At the same ceremony, Oslin was named female vocalist of the year. She went on to win a Grammy Award for her performance in “80’s Ladies,” and won two more Grammy Awards for “Hold Me,” which hit number one in 1989. Her fourth and final top, “Come Monday Monday,” “He arrived a year later.”
Along with his solo career, Oslin recorded his songs by a number of artists. Sissy Spacek cut “Lonely But Only for You” in 1983, Dottie West released “Where Is a Woman to Go” in 1984, and Judds recorded “Old Pictures” in 1987. Anne Murray, Dusty Springfield and Dan Seals performed also the role of Oslin. material. Oslin would continue to influence a harvest of today’s composers, including Brandy Clark, who recalled her in a Twitter thread as “Bigger than life, smart, funny, elegant, beautiful … the list could go on and continue”.
I will never forget the night 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 someone was KT Oslin until she blew through the door with him like something in the movie. pic.twitter.com/JmPLJcR7bx
– Brandy Clark (@TheBrandyClark) December 21, 2020
Oslin stopped touring in the early 1990s and began a career as an actor, appearing in TV series and television movies. She released an album with the biggest hits in 1993, the title of which summarizes how she saw herself confident as she got older: Songs from an old sex bomb. “We should have music for all of us,” she told them The Nashville scene in 2013. “Music is not just for a 20-year-old.”
Oslin continues to make occasional appearances on stage and release more music, including the 1996 American effort My roots show … and a 2001 collaboration with Raul Malo of the Mavericks, Live nearby, visit often. Her last album was 2015 Simply. In 2018, Oslin was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.