Country Music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis was amongst eight recipients of the President Obama's National Medal of the Arts on Monday. The 79- year-old accepted the honor from the president in the East Room of the White House.

"I've had a blessed career, and that has been acknowledged in many ways over the years," Tillis said, according to the Boot. "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!"

Other recipients included actor Al Pacino, poet Rita Dove, the United Service Organization, painter Will Barnet, art curator Emily Rauh Pulitzer, sculptor Martin Puryear and pianist Andre Watts. Also honored were nine recipients of the National Medal for the Humanities.

"The arts and humanities do not just reflect America, they shape America," President Obama said. "As long as I'm president, I look forward to making sure they are a priority for this country."

Tillis still keeps an active touring schedule, with 10 stops in the fall of 2011 and a handful scheduled for 2012. The most recent release available at his official website is 'You Ain't Gonna Believe This,' a collection of 19 stories and three new songs.

More From Taste of Country