Steve Martin congratulates fellow picker Chris Thile on "genius grant"

(CBS News) Comedian and expert banjo player Steve Martin congratulated mandolin virtuoso and composer Chris Thile via Twitter after he was awarded a $500,000 "genius grant" awarded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Martin tweeted, "Congratulations to Chris Thile, mandolin player extraordinaire and musical innovator, for winning a well-deserved MacArthur grant."

Reacting to that message, Thile gushed on "CBS This Morning," "That's so amazing!"

Martin later tweeted, "Since they're handing out genius grants, I'll be waiting by the phone for my 'Masterful Overlord' call."

Asked why he chose the mandolin, Thile said he saw a man playing a mandolin when he was 2 years old in a pizza place. "(The instrument) was small and high pitched and so was I. I loved the rhythmic precision of it. It's a stringed instrument that has a lot of responsibility in a string band."

In addition to Thile, 22 other people received the awards Tuesday night. The awards are given to people who show exceptional creativity in their work.

Thile said the award will change his life. He said, "It's going to give me the opportunity to say 'no' a little bit more often. I can just sit on my couch and play and think and write."

For more with Thile and fellow recipient author Junot Diaz, who also appeared on "CTM", watch the video in the player above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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