K.T. Oslin, a country music singer and songwriter who came to fame with her anthem "80's Ladies," has died, according to a statement from the Country Music Association.
She was 78.
Oslin became the first woman to win the CMA Award for song of the year in 1988 for "80's Ladies."
She also won multiple Grammy and ACM Awards during her career. Some of her other hits include "Hold Me" and "Come Next Monday."
Oslin was inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
Numerous country music artists paid tribute to Oslin on social media Monday following news of her death.
Travis Tritt recalled touring with Oslin at the beginning of her career, calling her a "brilliant song writer and one hellava lady" in a tribute posted on Twitter.
"...the gatekeepers didn't even have a chance to decide whether or not they'd let her in. K.T. Oslin didn't ask anyone for permission to enter. She waltzed in with her brilliant songs, her unmatched intellect, her perfectly foul mouth and she changed everything— forever," wrote singer and songwriter Chely Wright in a tweet
"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.' I was fortunate to work with K.T. on a number of television shows in the late '90s," Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association CEO, said in a statement. "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."
Oslin (birth name Kay Toinette Oslin) was born in Crossett, Ark. in 1942 and performed in folk acts in the '60s and starred in shows on and off Broadway in the '70s, per Variety. She was reportedly discovered in Nashville in her mid 40s by producer Harold Shedd, which changed her life. She found fame with the chart-topping success of her 1987 album 80's Ladies, which featured No. 1 hits "Do Ya" and "I'll Always Come Back." While the song "80's Ladies," written about sisterhood and female freedom, didn't have the same charting success, it became Oslin's signature tune. The song won two Grammys for best female country vocal performance and best country song for "80's Ladies," as reported by Variety. She also won female vocalist of the year and song of the year for "80's Ladies" at the 1988 Country Music Awards, making her the first female to win the latter.
The successful singer-songwriter shied away from making music in the early 1990s and pivoted her focus to acting. She was always quite realistic about her career and never gave into the Hollywood lifestyle, which she illustrated throughout her career. Let's take a look into Oslin's mindset as she navigated stardom.
K.T Oslin was very aware of the transformations occurring in the music industry and where she saw her place in it after she released her trio of super successful albums between 1987 and 1990.
"The business started changing very rapidly there about the third or fourth year into my deal. It got younger and younger, and I didn't want to fight it," she told Billboard in a 2015 interview. "The job just was getting to be where it wasn't fun. If this business becomes where it's not fun, you're doomed," she warned. She reportedly asked her team if she had enough money to live comfortably, and then she quit.
Even at the top of her commercial success, Oslin was realistic about her future as an entertainer. The history-making singer said she always worked hard and never took a second of her fame for granted. "I remember winning my first Grammy and thinking, 'It won't last forever. It could be over tomorrow, so have a good time today with it, save your money,'" she recalled.
The country superstar continued releasing music until 2001, after which she began an indefinite hiatus. Oslin returned to music in 2015 with her comeback album Simply. She was inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018, per Variety.
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