Country music is mourning the passing of K.T. Oslin, who died on December 21, 2020 in Nashville, Tennesee, after battling Parkinson's disease.
80s country star K.T. Oslin passed away at the age of 78. Oslin, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, had been in an assisted living facility for the last four years.
The Country Music Association announced Oslin's death and paid a moving tribute to her extraordinary talent. A cause of death was not announced, but it is known that Oslin tested positive for COVID-10 before her death.
K.T. Oslin won Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance at the 1989 Grammys | Source: Getty Images
THE IRREVERENT STAR
Oslin was the most unlikely of stars, a 45-year-old woman releasing her first album in an industry geared towards young talent. She had started out as an actress on Broadway, scoring small parts in musicals.
But Oslin quickly realized she wasn't going to make a decent living on the stage and started doing profitable work in advertising, singing jingles, and doing commercials.
Shedd produced Oslin's debut album “80’s Ladies,” which would go on to sell over 1 million copies, and won her four CM Awards.
Singer-songwriter K.T. Oslin at the 9th Annual Texas Heritage Songwriters' Hall of Fame Awards Show in 2014 in Austin, Texas | Source: Getty Images
THE SONGWRITING BUG
In the 70s, Oslin was touring with an experimental synthesizer band, and a piece of bathroom graffiti during a stop between gigs started the idea for a song cycling through her mind. She recounted:
"I just sort of dribbled on, a month or so later I would write another stupid song. They were funny and made me laugh."
Oslin honed her skills as a songwriter and started putting together what would one day be her first album. But she had no agent and no record deal. So she borrowed money and set up a concert.
Oslin's unique sound caught the attention of an RCA executive, and she was teamed up with producer Harold Shedd, who’d been working with country icons Reba McEntire and Alabama.
Shedd produced Oslin's debut album “80’s Ladies,” which would go on to sell over 1 million copies and win her four CM Awards and three Grammy Awards. Against all odds, Oslin became a star.
In the mid-90s, with three hit albums under her belt, Oslin was touring, but her health started to suffer. In 1995, she developed a heart condition and ended up having coronary bypass surgery.
Oslin revealed that she had called her managers and asked them if she had enough money to retire, and once they confirmed that she had, she decided to do as she pleased.
The singer noted with some amusement that she'd had a "terribly indulgent life," which had allowed her to live out all her dreams, including her original dream of becoming an actress.
Then in 2015, Oslin released her sixth and last studio album, "Simply," but unlike her previous releases, it failed to make it onto the charts. It was that year that Oslin was diagnosed with Parkinson's.
In 2016, Oslin, who had never married and had no children, moved into an assisted living facility to better cope with her rapidly deteriorating condition.
In 2018, Oslin received the ultimate accolade from the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the class of 2018 at their 48th Anniversary Gala, alongside Reba McEntire, for enhancing songwriters' work with her performances.
Over the last 24 hours, fans and country music stars have been paying tribute to the extraordinary legacy of K.T. Oslin, whose music will live on in our hearts. R.I.P. K.T. Oslin.