Kay Toinette (K. T.) Oslin (1942–2020)

Kay Toinette (K. T.) Oslin was a country music singer who skyrocketed to fame in her mid-forties with the hit album 80’s Ladies (1987). Her work is known for its humor and mature perspective, as she achieved success much later in life than most popular musicians.

K. T. Oslin was born in Crossett (Ashley County) on May 15, 1942. Soon after her birth, her family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and then to Houston, Texas. Oslin considers Houston her hometown.

Oslin initially performed as a folk singer with Guy Clark in the 1960s and then moved to New York, where she performed as a chorus girl on and off Broadway. She soon began doing advertising jingles, which led to appearances in a number of television commercials. She also wrote songs that were performed by Dottie West, Gail Davies, Sissy Spacek, and the Judds.

In 1987, after a brief run with Elektra Records, during which she released two singles, she landed a contract with RCA Records, which released Oslin’s debut 80’s Ladies. The album debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard charts and soon went platinum, with two No. 1 hits. Oslin became the first female songwriter to win the Country Music Association Song of the Year award for her title song, “80’s Ladies,” and also earned the Female Vocalist of the Year honors and a Grammy Award for the song. Oslin was honored with two Academy of Country Music awards and a Grammy for best female country vocal performance in 1987. Her follow-up album, This Woman (1988), shot to platinum and spawned five singles, including “Hold Me,” “Hey Bobby,” and “Money.” It also netted her two Grammy Awards, one for Best Country Female Vocal Performance and one for Best Country Song; two Academy of Country Music awards; and a Country Music Association award.

After releasing several more well-received songs, Oslin branched out into acting. She took one-time guest roles on the television shows Paradise and Evening Shade. On the big screen, she co-starred in The Thing Called Love (1993) with Sandra Bullock and River Phoenix.

In 1995, Oslin had coronary bypass surgery. She recovered and released acclaimed albums My Roots Are Showing (1996), Live Close By, Visit Often (2001), and Simply (2015). In 2000, she was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame.

Oslin never married. She was, later in life, diagnosed with Parkinson’s and began living in an assisted living facility 2016. She died on December 21, 2020, of complications related to COVID-19.

For additional information:
“The Best Interviews with Country Music Legends.” CNN Larry King Weekend. May 20, 2001. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0105/20/lklw.00.html (accessed July 15, 2021).

Huey, Steve. “K. T. Oslin.” AllMusic.com. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/kt-oslin-mn0000352999/biography (accessed July 15, 2021).


C. L. Bledsoe
Ghoti magazine


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