Thales Thomas â€œSkippâ€ Pearson, South Carolinaâ€™s ambassador of Jazz Music, played professionally for the first time at the age of 14, leading his first commercial band at age 15.
Upon completion of his formal education, Pearson spent 4 years in the United States Air Force. An enlisted man, with a distinguished military career, Pearson also performed professionally throughout the United States and in Western Europe while faithfully serving his country.
In 1965, Pearson enrolled in Claflin College, now Claflin University, to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education. As career educator, Pearson has taught scores of public school children the importance, and benefits of having music in their lives. For 30 years, Pearson served as the general music teacher, as well as, band director in Bamberg and Clarendon School Districts, building the first band programs, that still survives today, to children in those areas. After many years of community service activities, Pearson officially retired from the South Carolina National Guard Band in November of 1997.
Over the years, Pearson amazing professional career has allowed him to share the stage with renowned musicians to include: Sam Cooke, Wycliffe Gordon, Patti LaBelle, Chris Potter, Otis Redding, Patti Austin, Drink Smalls, Fred Wesley, Pete Neighbour, Dick Goodwin, Ron Westray, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti and many, many others.
Pearson numerous professional music credits include, and are not limited to, performances given in Western Europe and across the United States. In 1998, Pearson was inducted into the South Carolina Jazz Music Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career Pearson has been the subject of numerous South Carolina Public TV programs, local, regional and statewide news articles, and interviewed by syndicated radio and television talk shows hosts.
In 2002, 2004 and 2006 the State of South Carolinaâ€™s House of Representatives and Senate presented Pearson with a commendation in honor of his extraordinary contributions to the world of jazz music and to congratulate him on an outstanding career and to name him South Carolinaâ€™s ambassador of jazz music.
Finally, in 2003 Pearson, received the state of South Carolinaâ€™s highest artistic honor; the distinguished Elizabeth Oâ€™Neill Verner Award for individuals artistic excellence.