Jean Carne, born Sarah Jean Perkins in Columbus, GA, was raised in Atlanta and began singing gospel music in the church choir at age four. As a teenager one of the first highlights of her budding career was an appearance on the morning talk radio show Today in Georgia where she sang "Misty" while being accompanied by pianist Erroll Garner. Years later Carne won a music scholarship to Morris Brown College.

She began her recording career in 1969 with husband/keyboardist Doug Carn on the Black Jazz label of Oakland, CA, where she was one of the last vocalists to work with jazz legend Duke Ellington. In 1971, she began singing with Earth, Wind & Fire, recording two albums with the band, and in the mid-'70s she began recording with drummer/producer Norman Connors. Jean can be heard on several of his Buddah albums.