The We, Montana! initiative is being spearheaded by Jack Pelham, who will be its Executive Director if the project can build the community support necessary to move forward. Jack and his wife, Kay, are the owners of The Pelham School of Arts & Sciences in Laurel, MT, where Kay teaches about 40 piano students and Jack teaches singing on occasion, as his “day job” allows. Having a strong history in the arts, Jack, like many others, has found himself working in an unrelated field in hopes of finding just the right opportunity to get back into the arts someday. The We, Montana! at the Babcock project is just such an opportunity, Jack believes, and he is now working to bring the idea into reality.
Jack studied music at The Florida State University, with a heavy emphasis in both choral and instrumental music education, as well as in voice, in which field he acquired a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association. His earlier musical experience included directing two Barbershop choruses and extensive work in church music, directing ensembles from 2 to 80 in size. He plays several instruments and has done a fair amount of arranging and composing as well–particularly for vocal ensembles. Jack developed his own curriculum for teaching singing in a class setting of 10-12 students, 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 52 years, 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). In the last 11 years, 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.
Jack’s entrepreneurial work has been extensive, but 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 is currently authoring 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 has a novel in the editing phase, expecting it to be available on Amazon by the end of Summer 2017.
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 the We, Montana! project, where an underlying goal is to create many win/win opportunities to facilitate the quality of life for Montanans.
“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 to do something about that at the Babcock, giving people an opportunity to do meaningful and beautiful things together, face to face and mind to mind.”
Jack believes that putting a thousand or more performers on the Babcock stage each year will help to give those performers something much more real to do than participating in the more passive pastimes that are so prevalent today. And so with the audiences he envisions for the Babcock; the kinds of in-house productions he has in mind are considerably more interactive than today’s typical entertainment, and are designed to draw in the audience with a sense of community rarely experienced by today’s audiences.
“The role I envision for myself at the Babcock will be the funnest job in Montana” he says, “and if I can succeed in bringing this dream to reality, I’ll be one of the luckiest people alive! People have lots of varied enthusiasms and gifts, and in this troubled world, it’s especially needful that we share those with others as much as we can. So, the person who gets to spearhead this vision for the Babcock gets to be in the thick of it, and frankly, there’s a certain high that one gets when feeding off all that positive energy that so many have to bring. It’s even better than what the audience will get to enjoy, and I can’t wait to get started!” (Read the article.)
Jack Pelham can be reached through our contact page.