Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Stephen E. King grew up and attended schools in Louisville, Kentucky, graduating from duPont Manual High School in 1960.
Following graduation from Western Kentucky State College in 1964, King accepted a position as band director at Coeburn (Virginia) High School. In 1968 he moved to William Byrd High School, Vinton, Virginia, assuming the position of band director, a position he held for 17 years. His bands consistently earned ratings of Superior or Excellent.
In 1986 King was appointed Supervisor of Fine Arts for the Roanoke County, Virginia, Schools. Retiring in 1997, King was invited to join the music education faculty at Virginia Tech. During his tenure with Virginia Tech he supervised student teachers and interns, taught music education methods (undergraduate and graduate) and conducted the University Symphonic Wind Ensemble from 2007-08.
In addition to the Bachelor of Music from Western, he earned the Master of Science (1975) from Radford University and the Doctorate of Education from Virginia Tech (1991).
During his long career in music education, King taught elementary through graduate music education. He has been active as a researcher, adjudicator, guest conductor and clinician. King served as President of the Virginia Music Educators Association and the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association; Secretary of the Virginia Alliance for Arts Education; and, Research Chair of the American School Band Directors Association,
Active in advocacy for music education and fine arts, King served as chair and legislative liaison of the Virginia Coalition for Fine Arts Education, as Government Relations Chair for the Virginia Music Educators Association and as a consultant to the Virginia Department of Education.
In recognition of his work in music education, King received the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association, Philip J. Fuller Award; the American School Band Directors Association, Edwin Franko Goldman Award; and, was inducted into the Phi Beta Mu International Band Fraternity, Hall of Fame. He is the first recipient of the Virginia Tech Distinguished Music Educator Award. Additional professional memberships include Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Delta Kappa and NAfME.