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The history-making singer-songwriter, best known for being the first-ever female to win song of the year at the CMA Awards back in 1988, had been suffering from Parkinson's disease and was diagnosed with COVID-19 the week before her death on Monday. It is unclear at this time if either contributed to her death. MusicRow first reported the news of her death, which was later confirmed in a statement by the Country Music Association.
Born Kay Toinette Oslin in Crossett, Ark. in 1942, she began her career as a folk musician and Broadway star before she found fame in her mid-40s as a country star in 1987 with her debut album 80's Ladies, with the title track winning best female country vocal performance at the '88 Grammys, as well as the aforementioned CMA Awards. Oslin's sophomore album This Woman and third album Love in a Small Town found success, while her fourth album My Roots Are Showing was the first of hers to not hit the Billboard 200 albums chart or debut a top 40 country hit.
Oslin also made many appearances on TV in the '90s as a guest star and late-night host, as well as starring opposite Harry Hamlin in Poisoned by Love and in Peter Bogdanovich's 1993 film The Thing Called Love. She was inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014 and was voted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
"K.T. Oslin had one of the most soulful voices in country music and was a strong influence for women with her hit '80's Ladies,'" Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said in a statement obtained by EW. "I was fortunate to work with K.T. on a number of television shows in the late '90s. She was always gracious to the crews and up-and-coming talent performing alongside her. She truly had one of the best voices in the history of our format. Our thoughts go out to her loved ones at this difficult time."