Mel Tillis has received the National Medal of Arts, presented to him Feb. 13 by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Also honored were actor Al Pacino, artist Will Barnett, author Rita Dove, curator, collector and arts patron Emily Rauth Pulitzer, sculptor Martin Puryear, pianist André Watts, and the United Service Organization.
“I’ve had a blessed career, and that has been acknowledged in many ways over the years,” Mel said. “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 is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.”
Past recipients include B.B. King, James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, George Jones, Hallmark Cards, Minnie Pearl, Robert Shaw, Johnny Cash, Frank Capra, Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, AT&T and National Public Radio.