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"I've had a blessed career, and that has been acknowledged in many ways over the years," says Tillis, the 1976 CMA Entertainer of the Year and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. "I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call because I didn't know there were any more awards left to win. I'm very thankful and what an honor!"
The 'I Ain't Never' singer was one of two musicians given Medals of Art this year, alongside pianist André Watts. Other recipients included actor Al Pacino, artist Will Barnett, author Rita Dove, art curator Emily Rauth Pulitzer, sculptor Martin Puryear and the United Service Organization. The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government. It is awarded for support of and contributions to the arts.
Tillis' latest album is the comedic 'You Ain't Gonna Believe This.' "Humor has very much been a part of my whole life," he says. "As a matter of fact, it's been my crutch. The stories that I tell on and offstage are 95 percent true. If they need a little help, I help 'em out now and again!"