Passive Echoes

Marcia Epps Binns - Lead Vocals


Marcia at A&TBirth: Norfolk, Virginia

Education: Graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, UNCSA (HS), Classical Voice Major; College: UNCSA; Voice Major.

Teachers: (AHS) Deloris Chavis; (UNCSA) Selma Amansky, Geraldine Cate, and Alice Howland, of the Julliard School. (click on image above, Ms. Howland and the Julliard Quartet are performing Arnold Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" in 1951). 

Marcia was not particularly partial to serialism and she has a low tolerance for twelve-tone music. This became a subject of controversy and debate between Marcia and Larry when he began experimenting and implementing these techniques into his compositional and creative process. Ultimately, as with most major decisions that he made, only Marcia's influence and opinion was significant in Larry's rationale to leave twelve-tone techniques as just an occasional indulgence.

Memberships: ASCAPAmerican Federation of Teachers (AFT); International Reading Association.

King and ICareer and Life: Marcia is the oldest daughter of two former teachers. Her mother was an elementary school teacher and a very gifted mezzo-soprano and her father was an award winning high school band director and piano teacher.

She inherited their musical gifts which were manifested at a very early age. She has won countless awards and recognition for her vocal talents and her past performances are far too many to list. Her attendance and recommendation to NCSA (UNCSA) was made possible by North Carolina Governor Dan Moore after hearing her sing at a luncheon in Ahoskie, NC. 

The Governor of North Carolina wrote to Marcia to express his appreciation for her beautiful voice and singing. She was not singing a solo but was part of the chorus that performed for him and had a small solo part in one of the songs that they performed in her small town of Ahoskie, North Carolina.

Her humility and modesty prevented Larry from learning about any of this until he was invited home with her for the Thanksgiving holiday to meet her mother and sister after they became engaged. Then it was only after reading a scrap book that her mother kept that Larry happened to discover this remarkable experience of hers. When he asked her why she had not told him about this she said that she did not think it was such a big deal

Now, in her 4th year at NCSA Marcia was blossoming into a refined operatic vocalist. When she auditioned for roles she was successful. Marcia was also a member of NCSA's Camerata Singers under the baton of composer Philippe Buhler, who was also Marcia's and Larry's high school theory and harmony teacher.

Acceptance Letter 

Marcia wasn't sure that her parents were going to permit her to attend school 300 miles away from home until she returned from A&T University in early August. When she received a letter from Larry a week later she informed him that she would be moving to his hometown to attend NCSA in a few weeks and would call him when she arrived, which she did within hours on the day of her arrival. The next day they officially began dating.

On May 13, 1970 Marcia graduated from the high school division of NCSA and was accepted to the college division. She was just 16 years-old.

1971-72, her sophomore year in college at NCSA (UNC School of the Arts) was an excellent year for her, personally and artistically. She was engaged to marry Larry, her voice was reaching maturity and her private studies with Ms. Howland were progressing on schedule. Marcia was eagerly anticipating the possibility of competing for more roles in the various productions planned for the year.

The King and IOne of the artistic highlights of that year was her auditioning for a role in the all school production of "The King and I" in 1972, which was seen by over 10,000 attendees in Winston-Salem, NC. Marcia received a flattering and very positive review for her principal role as "Tuptim". Larry certainly concurs with the editorial reviewer's statement that: "She looked beautiful throughout the show and it was easy to see why someone would risk their live for her", he most certainly would have. (See Photos above and below and click on the link "flattering and very positive review" above)

Marcia's classical and operatic voice quality and technique was comparable to the classical Diva, Kathleen Battle.  (Interestingly, the piano accompanist in the audio clip of Kathleen Battle is NCSA alumnus Margo Garret. Ms. Garret was one of Marcia's frequent accompanist at NCSA).

MarciaMarcia was also excelling in other areas of the performing arts. Her exceptional vocal and acting abilities were easily recognizable. What is not known by many is that she started taking piano lessons from her father at four and received formal musical training on the flute and the violin. Furthermore, Marcia was an excellent sketch artist, something that she developed on her own without formal training.

However, only a select few knew that her true passion and desire was to be a professional dancer. She had studied and started taking ballet and modern dance lessons from the age of six. She became an excellent dancer.

The first time that she danced for Larry (a private performance) he was in awe of her graceful beauty and sultriness and her command of the art form. In fact, she was approached by both the dance and drama teachers at UNCSA and asked to change her major to their disciplines.

However, Marcia's beautiful voice was a magnificent gift from God that could not be neglected. It was summed up best by a letter from a banker in Ahoskie, NC who was present on the day that she and members of her Glee Club sang before the Governor. The letter to Marcia appears below and reads as follows:

It was her goal to focus on developing her skills in dance and acting in order to complement her vocal ability to someday star in musicals and Broadway. Serious opera was not necessarily a major objective for her. Nevertheless, if the opportunity presented itself to pursue an operatic career she would have taken advantage of it. 

Marcia has stated on numerous occasions that if she and Larry had not been reunited it is unlikely that she would have married anyone. Rather, she would have been content to immerse herself in her career and remain single, which was her intention in the fall of September, 1971. She intensely desired a long and successful music and dance career, a dream of hers since she was a young girl.

This nearly came to fruition because Larry was still debating until August, 1971 between entering pre-med studies at Fisk University or continuing his study of composition and transferring to the Berkley College of Music. There his focus would have been in jazz or songwriting rather than classical composition.

His return to UNCSA was ultimately prompted by the knowledge that Marcia was returning and the honor and privilege of studying with the esteemed composer, Dr. Robert Ward.

Marcia was immersed in her craft and was destined to sign her name in the annals of stardom in the world of music. She certainly had the talent and just needed a little luck and the opportunity. 

During the six months that she was away from UNCSA recovering from severe anemia, a condition she continues to suffer from occasionally even now, she had sorely missed the conservatory atmosphere, her voice and dance lessons, and had recommitted herself to excelling.

However, commencing in the early morning hours of August, 1971, circumstances were set in motion that would alter all of her plans and goals. Her entire life would soon dramatically change. This was due to her dormant yet very special love and bond with Larry.

Everything was set in motion when she answered an early, three o'clock in the morning, impulsive telephone call from Larry as revealed in the following account:

"After the telephone rang several times it was answered simultaneously by Marcia’s mom and Marcia, who could not sleep that night. Marcia kindly said to her sleepy mother, 'I’ll answer it mama.'
Larry’s heart was racing a mile a minute in anticipation of speaking with her for the first time in more than six months as he heard her lovely voice speaking with her mother. Larry had just completed a four hour gig at the Holiday Inn with his band. The conversation then proceeds:

Larry: Hello Marcia.

Marcia: Larry? …Is there something wrong? Are you alright? (very concerned)

Larry: I am fine.

Marcia: Do you realize what time it is?

Larry: Yes, I do (Pause). I just needed to hear your voice. I also wanted to tell you that ...I am still very much in love with you.

Marcia: What? (Pause…silence) Pardon me, but could you please repeat what you just said?

Larry: Marcia, I have never stopped loving you, not for a moment. In fact, I realize that I love you more than ever.

Marcia(Silence) Why didn’t you answer any of my letters (somewhat upset)? You promised me that you would write when I left in January, but you didn’t. Larry that really hurt!

Larry: I am really sorry. I have been going through a lot, emotionally and mentally, at school and at home. I am so sorry. Can you possibly forgive me?

Marcia: (Pause) Yes…. I guess so."

(The details that led to this urgent hour-long telephone call, a second telephone call 7 or 8 hours later after they both had slept, and the aftermath is discussed in later chapters)

 Marcy's Wedding Smile



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