K.T. Oslin, the Grammy-winning country singer best known for her 1987 hit “’80s Ladies,” died Monday in Nashville at age 78.
The cause of death was not immediately known, but friend Robert Oermann told the Associated Press that she had tested positive for COVID-19 last week. She had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and lived in an assisted-living facility since 2016.
Oslin was a late bloomer to the country scene, debuting in her 40s as a singer-songwriter with a distinctly female perspective. In 1988 and 1989, she won back-to-back Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “’80s Ladies” and for “Hold Me” — the latter also won Best Country Song.
In addition, Oslin collected won four Academy of Country Music Awards, including Top New Female Vocalist in 1987 and Top Female Vocalist in 1988. She won the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year Award in 1988 and Song of the Year for “’80s Ladies.”
“K.T. Oslin had one of the most soulful voices in Country Music and was a strong influence for women with her hit ’80s Ladies,’” Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said in a statement. “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.”
Tributes quickly poured in for Oslin.
“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,” singer and songwriter Chely Wright tweeted.
Travis Tritt recalled called Oslin “brilliant song writer and one hellava lady.”
Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Stevens recalled, “What a unique talent. She (K.T. Oslin) was a breath of fresh air to country music. We will miss you.”