Tag Archives: K.T. Oslin

Six Pack: K.T. Oslin, Part One

The following is a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Cory DeSteinAn additional Six Pack written by Kevin J. Coyne will follow later this week.

oslinK.T. Oslin appears to most often enter a conversation with the line, “Older woman who broke into the music business.” A better introduction would be genius songwriter. She was the first woman to win the CMA award for Song of the Year. Her first two albums sold platinum and in three short years, she was awarded three Grammys, four ACM Awards, and two CMA Awards. With theatrical videos such as “80’s Ladies,” “Come Next Monday” and “Mary and Willie,” along with her masterful songwriting skills, her work has a timeless quality, with the themes she addressed back then still being relevant and fresh today.

I first knew of K.T. Oslin through the video “Come Next Monday” when I was just a child in 1990, and Love in a Small Town became the very first album I ever owned. After hearing “Hold Me” on satellite radio in 2006, I quickly caught myself up on her catalog and was very pleased that I did. She may not be an elite vocalist like Trisha Yearwood or Carrie Underwood, but her refreshing tack on songwriting will please any discerning listener.

80s-ladies“80’s Ladies”

80’s Ladies

The song that broke down the barriers on Music Row and forever changed the rules of what could be written about in country music. Her feminist anthem for the middle-aged woman only peaked at No. 7 on the charts, but it went on to win Oslin her first Grammy and the CMA award for Song of the Year. Oslin has said of “80’s Ladies” that she wanted it to be something people would remember her by. She certainly succeeded on that front.

this-woman“Hold Me”

This Woman

On a trip to North Carolina to visit friends in 2005, a song came on my satellite radio. The spoken verses described a husband detailing to his wife how he had planned to leave her that very morning. I found the lyrics quite harsh and brutally honest in his intentions. “When I left here this morning I was bound and determined I was never going to come back…” Never before had I heard a song take this approach. As the wife explained she too had left that very morning with no plan on returning. Oslin speaks the verses, but when the couple reconciles, she sings with gusto: “Don’t kiss me like we’re married. Kiss me like we’re lovers.”

this-woman“Hey Bobby”

This Woman

Oslin moved from the busy streets of New York City to mild side streets of Nashville, Tennessee in the eighties. Shortly after her arrival, she was invited to Catfish Fry – not something that you would find in NYC. The event inspired her to write “Hey Bobby.” The lyrics almost seem to be from a man’s point of view, but instead it’s just K.T. breaking down yet another barrier, as she plays the seductress tempting her lover with the a tryst out in the countryside.

love-in-a-small-town“Come Next Monday”

Love In a Small Town

On the last of her four No. 1 singles,  Oslin sings half-hearted promises of losing weight, going to bed early, and dropping a lover who is no good for her. Oslin’s wit and personality shine through, as the listener knows she truly will be sorry come Tuesday when it all starts over again. The song shot to the top of the charts with the help with the Bride of Frankenstein themed music video.

greatest-hits“New Way Home”

Greatest Hits: Songs from an Aging Sex Bomb

I usually feel less is more in the production arena but in this tale of woman preserving her heart by finding a new way home, Ballard’s larger production works moer effectively. Oslin sings of finding a new way home to protect her heart from all that it has already had to go through.  She “can’t be driving by your house no more” because “someday I’ll see something I don’t wanna see, and it will only break my heart all over again.”

live-close-by“Maybe We Should Learn To Tango”

Live Close By, Visit Often

“Tango” could possibly be the sequel to Oslin’s 1988 “Hold Me,” with the married couple still working on ways to keep the flame alive. When we first met the two in the late eighties, they each made it to the edge of town, but turned the car around and headed back to each other’s arms. Now they consider taking tango lessons as a way to reconnect, hoping the physical closeness can help to close the growing emotional distance between them.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for Country Universe, send an e-mail to kevin@countryuniverse.net

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Grammy Flashback: Best Female Country Vocal Performance

Revised and Updated for 2009

While the Grammys have honored country music from the very first ceremony in 1959, they did not begin honoring by gender until 1965, when the country categories were expanded along with the other genre categories.

This is a look back at the Best Female Country Vocal Performance category. It was first awarded in 1965, an included single competing with albums until the Best Country Album category was added in 1995. When an album is nominated, it is in italics, and a single track is in quotation marks.

I’ve often made the case that female artists were making the best music in the 1990s, and the Grammys did a great job nominating songs and albums that were ignored at the CMA and ACM awards, which is not surprising, given that those shows have so few categories that are actually for songs and albums.

As usual, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back.

2009

  • Martina McBride, “For These Times”
  • LeAnn Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Last Name”
  • Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
  • Trisha Yearwood, “This is Me You’re Talking To”

This year’s lineup includes three former winners and two women looking for their first victory in this category. Martina McBride is in the running for the eighth time in fifteen years, and with one of her more understated performances. Lee Ann Womack returns for a fifth time, having received a nomination for the lead single of her five most recent albums. Both ladies turned in good performances here, but they’ve been overlooked for records bigger and better, so they’re not likely to snap their losing streaks this time around.

As for the previous winners, LeAnn Rimes earned her third consecutive nod, bringing her total to five in this category. She hasn’t won since 1997, when she took home the award for “Blue.” If enough voters hear “What I Cannot Change,” she might have a shot, though the only version of the song that’s been a legitimate hit has been the dance remix.

Trisha Yearwood won in 1998 for “How Do I Live,” her only victory to date. But she’s earned her tenth nomination for “This is Me You’re Talking To,” which is arguably her strongest vocal performance of the ten. Like Rimes, the challenge is getting enough voters to listen to it, but she’s never been more deserving of the victory than she is this year.

Still, the favorite remains Carrie Underwood. She’s quickly become a favorite with Grammy voters, having won this category two years running, along with Best New Artist in 2007. She’s the nominee with the highest profile, and while “Last Name” is nowhere near the same league of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats” in terms of artistry or impact, it was a big hit, something that the other four entries cannot claim.

If Underwood was nominated for “Just a Dream,” she’d have a mortal lock on this one. But the strength of the other nominees will at least keep this race competitive. If Underwood prevails, Grammy queen Alison Krauss better watch her back.

2008

  • Alison Krauss, “Simple Love”
  • Miranda Lambert, “Famous in a Small Town”
  • LeAnn Rimes, “Nothin’ Better to Do”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Before He Cheats”
  • Trisha Yearwood, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love”

Looking at this lineup, you’d think that it was a golden age of female country artists, something akin to the mid-nineties. In reality, only one of these songs was a big radio hit, though three others managed to go top twenty. In terms of quality, however, this is the most consistent and thoroughly wonderful set of nominees this category has seen this century.  You’d have to go back to exactly 1999 to find a better lineup.

In a year when any winner would have been deserving, Underwood won for “Before He Cheats,” her second straight win for a signature mega-hit from her debut album.

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CMA Flashback: Horizon Award (New Artist)

For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page.

2010

  • Luke Bryan
  • Easton Corbin
  • Jerrod Neimann
  • Chris Young
  • Zac Brown Band

Usually there isn’t this much turnover in this race unless most of last year’s nominees are ineligible.  This year, only one of the four eligible nominees from last year – Zac Brown Band – earns a nomination.  With their massive success and their multiple nominations, they’ve got an excellent shot at winning. Then again, Easton Corbin is elsewhere on the ballot, too. It could be a horse race.
2009

  • Randy Houser
  • Jamey Johnson
  • Jake Owen
  • Darius Rucker
  • Zac Brown Band

Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation.

lady-antebellum2008

  • Jason Aldean
  • Rodney Atkins
  • Lady Antebellum
  • James Otto
  • Kellie Pickler

The industry favorites Lady Antebellum became the fourth band in history to win this award, following Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks and Sawyer Brown.

2007

  • Jason Aldean
  • Rodney Atkins
  • Little Big Town
  • Kellie Pickler
  • Taylor Swift

In the year since winning the Horizon Award, Swift has solidified her position as the genre’s most successful rising star.  While her debut album hasn’t reached the sales heights of the first discs by previous winners Carire Underwood and Gretchen Wilson, Swift is still one of the genre’s only significant sellers.

2006

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Little Big Town
  • Sugarland
  • Josh Turner
  • Carrie Underwood

I had a sneaking suspicion that Josh Turner was going to take this home, but as I’ve said before, Carrie’s got the best pipes since Trisha Yearwood. That she’ was acknowledged for that at such an early stage of her career is pretty amazing. Somehow I think the thrill of winning Horizon was short-lived, as winning Female Vocalist the same night left that memory in the dust.

2005

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Big & Rich
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Julie Roberts
  • Sugarland

Four of these five were nominees again the following year, and all in categories besides just Horizon, though Lambert got another shot at that as well. I think Big & Rich and Sugarland are making the most interesting music, and they’re moving more units than Bentley, though he’s no slouch himself. The CMA showed good judgment this year.

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100 Greatest Women, #37: K.T. Oslin

100 Greatest Women

#37

K.T. Oslin

There had never anyone before in country music like K.T. Oslin when she hit the scene, and there hasn’t been anyone like her since. She instantly redefined what a woman in country music could sing and write about, and by breaking through at the age of 45, she became a voice for her whole generation of women.

Her road from her native Texas to Nashville was a long and winding one. She grew up idolizing Patsy Cline, and her attention turned to folk stars like Joan Baez as she entered junior college. She studied drama while simultaneously developing her musical craft. Before the sixties ended, she had sung in a folk trio with Guy Clark and David Jones. She even worked on an LP in Los Angeles, but the sessions were never released commercially.

While doing a stint in the national touring company of Hello Dolly!, Oslin visited New York City and fell in love with it. She joined the chorus of the Broadway show, and spent the seventies doing small parts in musical theater and recording commercial jingles. She also began focusing on her songwriting, and a friend in the business told her that her songs sounded country. So in 1978, she started shopping her songs around Music City.

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