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"80s Lady" K.T. Oslin, chart-topping country star, dead at 78

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Alan Mayor/CMAK.T. Oslin, who topped the country charts in the late ’80s with her unique approach to country music and won several Grammys, CMA and ACM Awards along the way, has died.  She was 78.

Born Kay Toinette Oslin in Arkansas, Oslin was a folk singer, a musical theater actress and a commercial jingle singer before landing a country record deal under the name Kay T. Oslin.  Neither of her singles did that well, but other artists started to record her songs, including The Judds.  She eventually signed another contract, this time using the name K.T. Oslin, and her career took off.

The song that put Oslin on the map was “80’s Ladies,” the title track of her 1987 album, which hit the top 10, won her the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal performance and was named the CMA’s Song of the Year. 

The female anthem detailed the sometimes difficult journey that women had had getting to that decade, with lyrics like, “We burned our bras and we burned our dinners/And we burned our candles at both ends/And we’ve had some children/Who look just like the way we did back then.”

Two number-one hits followed: “Do Ya” and “I’ll Always Come Back.”  Oslin also duetted with Alabama on the number-one hit “Face to Face.”

This Woman, Oslin’s second album, was an even bigger success, producing five hits, including the number-one “Hold Me,” as well as “Hey Bobby,” the title track, “Money” and “Didn’t Expect it to Go Down this Way.”  “Hold Me” won Oslin two Grammys, including Best Country Song, and This Woman was named the ACM’s Album of the Year.

KT’s third album, 1990’s Love In a Small Town, produced her biggest chart hit, “Come Next Monday.”  She then retired from touring and did some acting.  A return to singing came in 1996, and she also made sporadic concert appearances, including a 2013 show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ’80s Ladies.  Oslin’s final album, Simply, came out in 2015, the same year she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

KT Oslin was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.

By Andrea Dresdale
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