In the sixth grade, King joined the middle school band and played trumpet throughout his middle school years. However, when it came time to transition to high school he decided to pursue choir instead.
“This is where I fell in love with classical singing,” said King, “I enjoyed that experience so much I decided to go to college to major in Music Education to become a music teacher.”
King decided to attend the University of Memphis, where he would graduate cum laude with his Bachelor of Music in Education. He then remained at Memphis to get his Master’s in Vocal Performance from the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music.
While King’s time in choir in high school developed his love of singing and classical music, he was not a prominent solo singer during that time.
“It wasn’t until I got to the University of Memphis that they pointed out the fact that I could be a solo singer,” said King, “They saw that potential in me.”
During his time at the School of Music King’s teacher’s pushed him to continue to grow as a musician in many ways. King accredits much of his musicianship skills to his time in University Singers, under the direction of Larry Edwards at the time, saying that Edwards “taught us how to be independent musicians.” It was during his time in choir that King developed skills such as learning to read music and the process of learning music itself.
“The knowledge that I gained from the faculty and the curriculum helped me to come into my own. Overall, me figuring out I am an artist that can stand alone. I have something other people want to hear,” said King.
King’s teacher, Dr. Pamela Gaston, was a “voice mom” to him during his time at the University, pushing him to develop and grow his skill. The work that the two did together to prepare his repertoire is still prevalent today, as the audition package he put together with Dr. Gaston is the one he still uses for auditions.
It was also Dr. Gaston who encouraged King to audition for the MET Opera National Council Auditions before he even knew much about the competition. “She called me to tell me to get to Harris Hall because I had an audition that day,” reminisced King, “I won the Encouragement Award that year. The next year I was serious and won the District Level.”
After graduating from the University of Memphis, King went on to work with several great programs such as the Utah Festival Opera, The Charlottesville Opera, and AIMS Graz. It was during his time at AIMS Graz that King was able to work with renowned mezzo-soprano, Christa Ludwig. In 2013, he made his European debut in Norfolk, England as Demetrius in the Yorke Trust Opera production of Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Two years ago King made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Lyric Opera singing the role of Zurga. King was scheduled to return to Carnegie Hall in 2020, but sadly it was canceled due to COVID-19.
Currently, King is an active member of the Memphis community. He is an adjunct professor at the Rhodes College School of Music, where he teaches lessons to many students. He is also a Fellow with the Memphis Music Initiative, through which he offers lessons to younger singers. Also, King remains an active performer through his work as a staff singer for Opera Memphis, and is a Company Artist for Moon River Opera as well.
King has several exciting tentative projects in the works which you can find more about through his social media accounts. You can find him on Instagram with the handle @making28 and Youtube under Marcus King.
“I owe a lot to the faculty there,” said King, “ They saw potential in me that I didn’t know I had.”