Everette Harp started playing piano at two, and began practicing saxophone at the age of four. The youngest of the eight children of a minister, gospel music was one of Harp's earliest influences. Harp started playing jazz in high school, and graduated from North Texas State University with a music major in the early 1980s. While there he joined Phi Beta Sigma. Working as an accountant for a short time, Harp played in local Houston bands, most notably a local jazz/funk group called The Franchise, which released its own album locally, which included the first recording of Harp's "There's Always Hope" in 1987. Harp moved to Los Angeles in 1988. He immediately toured briefly with Teena Marie, and then internationally with Anita Baker. In 1992, Harp released his self-titled solo debut.