The Austin City Limits crew is sad to hear of the death of singer, songwriter and country hitmaker K.T. Oslin at the age of 78. The three-time Grammy-winning artist suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years, and had been diagnosed with Covid-19 last week.
Raised in Houston, Texas, Oslin majored in drama at Lon Morris and sang in a folk trio with Guy Clark as a young adult in her hometown. She found success appearing in musical stage productions in New York City and starting writing songs in her NY apartment. Her first country singles came out on Elektra Records in the early 80s, but failed to make much of a dent in the charts. It wasn’t until 1987 when, at the age of 45, she hit with her self-penned “80’s Ladies,” her first top-ten, CMA- and Grammy award-winning single, which pushed the album of the same name to the top of the C&W charts. She continued having hits through the early nineties, including her #1 singles “Hold Me” (which won her two further Grammys), “I’ll Always Come Back,” “Come Next Monday” and “Do Ya.” She also wrote songs for the Judds and Gail Davies.
“K.T. brought an edge and an attitude that was missing in Country music in the 80’s and 90’s – especially among female singers,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “There weren’t many singers of any gender singing lyrics like ‘We were stoned rock and rollers in the 60’s.’ She helped pave the way for the new generation of women in Country to come.”
For the rest of her career Oslin alternated between acting and music, releasing six LPs in total, including 2001’s Live Close By, Visit Often, produced by the Mavericks’ Raul Malo, and her final album Simply in 2015. She appeared on Austin City Limits twice, in 1989 and 1992. Here she is with her closing number from the latter year, singing “Do Ya.”