K.T. Oslin — a groundbreaking country artist and member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame — died Monday at age 78.
Oslin, who rose to fame with the 1987 hit “80s Ladies,” had been battling Parkinson’s disease in recent years. News of her death was first reported by friend and country music historian Robert K. Oermann via Music Row.
Oslin had been staying in an assisted-living facility since 2016. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, but ”it is unclear whether this contributed to her death on Monday morning,” Oermann said.
“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. 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,” said Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern in a statement.
Oslin was 45 when the self-penned “80s Ladies” made her a country star. A string of country hits followed over the next three years, including the chart-toppers “Do Ya,” “I’ll Always Come Back,” ”Hold Me” and “Come Next Monday.” In 1988, she became the first female songwriter to win the CMA Award for Song of the Year.
In 2018, she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. At the announcement press conference, she said it was “wonderful” to be recognized by the songwriting community, and “especially now.”
“I’ve been stricken with Parkinson’s disease,” she said from the podium. “Half the universe seems like they’re getting it. So this is special.”