Mel Tillis was honored with the National Medal of Arts yesterday during a ceremony at the White House. President Obama presented this year’s awards to Tillis, actor Al Pacino, and several others.
First Lady Michelle Obama was also on hand for the event in the East Room.
Tillis, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, said, “I’ve had a blessed career, and that has been acknowledged in many ways over the years. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call because I didn’t know there were anymore awards left to win. I’m very thankful and what an honor!”
The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government. It recognizes outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States. Past recipients include George Jones, Minnie Pearl, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan.
Tillis has recorded more than 60 albums and scored 35 Top Ten singles during his career. He was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year, and is a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Among the other artists who have recorded his songs are Kenny Rogers (“Ruby, Don’t You Take Your Love To Town”), George Strait (“Thoughts of a Fool”), and Ricky Skaggs (“Honey, Open That Door”). BMI named Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades.