The musical director for Sing Montana! is Jack Pelham. Jack, his wife, Kay, and their son, James, live in in Laurel, MT, where Kay teaches teaches piano and James works at Tractor Supply Company studies mathematics and computer programming. Jack currently is in the process of retiring from a career in Paintless Dent Repair, and opening his own studio in Laurel, where he plans to offer private instruction in music, and class instruction in several humanities-related subjects. He says, “I’m a better person when I’m involved in singing.”
Jack studied music at The Florida State University, with a heavy emphasis in both choral (Major professors were Andre Thomas, Judy Bowers, Clayton Krebhiel, and Colleen Kirk.) and instrumental music education, as well as in voice (Janice Harsanyi), in which field he acquired a Bachelor of Arts Degree. His earlier musical experience included directing two Barbershop choruses and extensive work in church music, directing ensembles from 2 to 80 in size. And more recently, he was the Executive Director (2018-2022) of the We, Montana! Homeschool Program, where he taught music and several other subjects. (Freedom Choir grew out of a homeschool choir that began during this time, consisting of homeschool students and parents.) He plays several instruments and has done a fair amount of arranging and composing as well—particularly for vocal ensembles. He developed his own curriculum for teaching singing in a small class settings, which not only costs less than traditional voice lessons, but also offers each student valuable opportunities to learn from seeing his or her fellow students as they are being coached. (See his arts bio here.)
Jack is a high-output individual whose career has been varied, giving him a wide field of experience. By way of example, in his 58 years (as of 2023), he has worked as a law clerk, a salesman for Steinway Pianos, a private music teacher, and an entrepreneur in various web-related projects. He has designed and built over 30 websites and for various purposes. Among these are a website that sends alerts when it hails, and a mobile app for estimating Paintless Dent Repair (PDR). Since 2006, he has worked as a Paintless Dent Repair technician, which job brought him to Billings after the 2010 Father’s Day tornado and hail storm in The Heights. He and his family loved Montana so much that they asked their family back East to pack up their things and ship them to Billings! Since then, his PDR work has taken him all over Montana, working in body shops as a subcontractor, fixing hail damage on cars in such towns as Billings, Laurel, Columbus, Big Timber, Roundup, Butte, Shelby, Kalispell, Malta, Jordan, and Glendive. Meanwhile, in 2015/2016, Jack and a business partner conducted an 8-month comprehensive marketing analysis for a Laurel manufacturer with an innovative product.
While Jack’s entrepreneurial work has been extensive, he also has strong philosophical interests. Since 2012, Jack has made a study of cognitive science, having read over 25 books related particularly to the psychology of rational thinking. He has recently published a novel, The Extraordinary Visit of Benjamin True: The State of the Union as no one else would tell it. He is currently writing a nonfiction book promoting honesty, rationality, and responsibility as a deliberate and sustainable way of life, and is the founder of the fledgling Society for Reality-Based Thinking. He publishes educational memes nearly every day on the Society’s Facebook page. He also keeps a blog covering many subjects and a Bible podcast.
One of the persistent theme’s in Jack’s life has been, “Life is short; why not do something extraordinary while we are here?” And this is the spirit he brings to Sing Montana!, where an underlying goal is to create many win/win opportunities to facilitate the quality of life for those involved.
“There’s something distinctly ‘human’ about engaging in the arts, but it’s more than that,” he says. “Rather, there’s something even more ‘human’ about engaging with other humans, period—and that’s a skill and pastime that is slowly being abandoned in our culture. I am excited to be doing something about that with Sing Montana!, giving people an opportunity to do meaningful and beautiful things together, face to face and mind to mind.”
Jack Pelham can be reached through our contact page.