Guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel has been feted with the Member of the Order of Australia medal, one of 400 Australians recognized in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Emmanuel received the award Monday (June 14) for his accomplishments in music and contributions to charities, which include Kids Under Cover, an agency that creates opportunities for street kids to build their own homes.
Billboard.biz caught up with the 55-year-old musician, who is currently based in Nashville and is in the midst of a grueling Stateside trek. The multiple ARIA Award winner and two-time Grammy nominee ranks his latest honor among the most important of his career.
"An award like this, especially from your home country, is a wonderful thing. It's just nice to be recognized," he tells Billboard.biz. "It's a whole different thing to getting a musical award. I'm sure a lot of this has to do with charity work, which I've been able to be involved in. You work your way into a place of privilege and you use it the right way and this is what happens."
Emmanuel has completed a new album, titled "Little By Little," and there are plans in the works for a homecoming tour of Australia later this year. But there is no schedule to get off the road and return to Australia for good, not in the short-term anyway.
"I work a lot because I'm trying to get good," he says modestly. "And the only way I know is to get to work. There's so much opportunity out there. I started this touring schedule a long, long time ago and it's taken off like a rocket."
The Order of Australia, Australia's highest non-military honor, was established "for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service".
Previous recipients of the Member of the Order of Australia include former Midnight Oil frontman turned frontline politician Peter Garrett, artist and broadcaster Rolf Harris, plus executives Denis Handlin, chairman/CEO of Sony Music Australia and New Zealand, and Mushroom Group of Companies chairman Michael Gudinski.