Sparkle first started singing in her family's gospel music group. Sparkle met singer R. Kelly in while he was working on a male artist in 1989. Sparkle was the first and only successful artist to release an album on Kelly's Rockland label. Sparkle's debut album, the self-titled Sparkle, was released on May 19, 1998. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the R&B charts and was certified Platinum very soon after the release. The album is best known for the single "Be Careful," a 1998 duet with R. Kelly, which made it to two of Billboard's major airplay charts, peaking at No. 3 on the Rhythmic Top 40 and charted at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot R&B Airplay for six consecutive weeks, while also reaching No. 7 in the UK.
Despite the success of her debut album, Sparkle and R. Kelly began to have creative differences while working on her second album, which led to her to ask to be released from Rockland/Interscope. She then signed with Motown Records, where she would release her second album Told You So in 2000. However, the album was a commercial disappointment, only making it to 121 on the Billboard 200, while scoring a minor hit with the single "It's a Fact".
On August 13, 2012, Sparkle released her first music video in 12 years called "So Bad"; however, the single is currently not available for purchase on iTunes or any digital music outlet.
In 2002, the Chicago Police Child Investigative Unit and a writer for the Chicago Suntimes showed Sparkle a videotape allegedly of her young niece, then approximately 14, and R. Kelly engaging in sexual acts. Sparkle identified the young girl as her sister's daughter. Sparkle testified against R. Kelly in a subsequent criminal trial on charges of child pornography in 2008. However, in the end, the jury found Kelly not guilty in the case.