Ms. Oslin also won three Grammy Awards, as well as female vocalist of the year honors from the Country Music Association in 1988. She was later inducted into both the Texas and Nashville songwriter halls of fame.
Kay Toinette Oslin was born on May 15, 1942, in Crossett, Ark. Her father, Larry, died of leukemia when she was 5. Her mother, Kathleen (Byrd) Oslin, worked as a lab technician for the Veterans Administration.
Ms. Oslin and her brother, Larry, who died several years ago, spent much of their childhood with their mother in Mobile, Ala., and their teenage years in Houston, where Ms. Oslin studied drama at Lon Morris College and sang in a folk trio with the singer-songwriter Guy Clark.
In the mid-’60s she moved to New York, where she worked in the theater and as a jingle singer.
Ms. Oslin made New York her home for much of the next two decades, appearing in, among other productions, the Broadway musical “Promises, Promises” and the Lincoln Center revival of “West Side Story.”
She also started writing songs and was encouraged by Diane Petty, an executive with the performing rights organization SESAC, to pitch her country-leaning material to song publishers in Nashville.
She eventually was signed, as Kay T. Oslin, by Elektra Records, but neither of the singles she released for the label went anywhere. It was not until other singers started having success with her songs that her career began to gain momentum, ultimately leading to the showcase at which she performed for Mr. Galante.