Trailblazing country singer-songwriter and Arkansas native K.T. Oslin dies at age 78

Entertainment

FILE – K.T. Oslin appears at the 31st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 23, 1989. Oslin, who hit it big with the 1987 hit “80′s Ladies” and won three Grammy awards, has died. She was 78. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, File)

Trailblazing country musician K.T. Oslin – the first female writer whose work won CMA’s Song of the Year – died on Monday, industry officials said.

Oslin’s passing was first reported by the trade publication Music Row then later confirmed by the Country Music AssociationShe’d been fighting Parkinson’s disease in recent years, while residing in an assisted living facility, Music Row reported.

She’s best known for the 1987 hit “80’s Ladies,” which topped out at No. 7 on the Billboard country chart. That tune was named Song of the Year at the 1988 CMA Awards, making her the first female writer whose work won that coveted honor.

Oslin also won Female Vocalist of the Year at that 1988 show.

“K.T. Oslin was a pioneer in every sense of the word. Oslin shattered long-standing industry norms of who got a shot at making it in the business,” according to a statement by singer Chely Wright.

“Nashville was absolutely gobsmacked by her genius and 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.”

Not only did she break barriers as a female, Oslin is among the very few middle-age women to find Nashville success at a later point of life, according to Music Row.

Before hitting it big in Music City, Oslin made a living on Broadway in the late 1960s and early 1970s performing in shows such as “Promises, Promises” and “Hello Dolly!”

She eventually found her true calling in Nashville and was nominated for six Grammys between 1987 and 1990, and took home three miniature phonographs.

At the 1988 show, she won awards for Best Country Vocal Performance by a female singer and Best Country Song for “Hold Me.”

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