August 30

What Happened to Country Star K.T. Oslin, the ’80s Lady?

Many would wonder whatever happened to K.T. Oslin.

Anyone who listened to country music in the late 1980s will surely remember K.T. Oslin, the feisty, wry singer-songwriter who could make you laugh one minute and weep the next. She hit the top 40 of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with “Wall of Tears,” her debut single for RCA Records. And before the year ended, thanks to the success of “80’s Ladies,” she became one of the biggest stars in the country format.

She won various accolades for her 1987 signature hit, “80’s Ladies,” including a Song of the Year at the 1988 CMA Awards and a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. What’s even more remarkable, Oslin established her career with “80’s Ladies” when she was already forty-five years old – far from the younger “New Traditionalist” movement personified by such acts as Reba McEntire and Patty Loveless.

“I thought it was my last chance at doing anything in this business, which was all that I knew how to do,” Oslin revealed. “I would have ended up selling gloves at Macy’s if it weren’t for Joe Galante. I was so naïve about the business. You can’t know about it unless you’re in it. You don’t take a course in it. You can’t know it unless you’re there. I thought, ‘Here is my last shot,’ and that was scary. I was almost fifty years old, but I didn’t let myself think it was impossible.”

K.T. Oslin’s Retirement Few Years Later Her Debut

The year 1987 indeed turned out to be a life-changing one for the Arkansas native. However, after the release of her third album in late 1990, Oslin retired from touring. Her retirement coincided with the chart declines of most country artists who were over forty.

But there’s no way you can put a stop to the feisty K.T. Oslin. In 2015, she released Simply, her first studio album in fourteen years. When asked of her whereabouts since her commercial peak of 1987-1992, she said:

“I went to my house, and I just kind of stayed there. There were a number of reasons. Some of them were personal. Some of them were medical. Some were business-related. The business started changing very rapidly there about the third or fourth year into my deal,” she said. “It got younger and younger, and I didn’t want to fight it. I couldn’t get rest, and the job just was getting to be where it wasn’t fun. If this business becomes where it’s not fun, you’re doomed. So I asked my businesspeople if I had enough money to quit, and they said I did, so that’s what I did.”

Oslin also put her pen in action. “Do You Think About Me,” included on the album, was her first all-new composition in over two decades. Sadly, the album failed to chart.

Now, K.T. Oslin is already seventy-eight years old. After recovering from serious health issues in the early 1990s, including severe depression and quadruple bypass surgery, the talented singer has happily retired in Nashville. However, in June 2015, she was reported to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Still, she is doing “anything I want to do. I lead a terribly indulgent life.”

Without a doubt, K.T. Oslin and her music will go down in history. And there’s one thing Oslin wanted her fans to remember about her. “I’d like to be remembered as someone who stuck to their guns and did it the way they thought. I tried to do my very best every time out of the chute. And … that’s it!”


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