Jessica Harp grew up with her parents and her sister, Annie in Kansas City, Missouri. She began singing when she was three, writing lyrics when she was eight, and picked up guitar at 13. In 2002, she pursued a solo career in music, releasing her independent album, Preface. She then worked as a backup vocalist for various country acts.
She provided backing vocals for her long-time friend Michelle Branch's album, Hotel Paper. After working together, Harp joined up with Branch in 2005 to form a country duo, known as The Wreckers, whose song "The Good Kind" was featured on One Tree Hill and its soundtrack. The group's debut country single, "Leave the Pieces", was released in February 2006. It was followed by their debut album, Stand Still, Look Pretty, which was released on May 23, 2006. "Leave the Pieces" reached Number One on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in September 2006. The album produced two additional singles in "My, Oh My" (a Top 10 hit) and "Tennessee" and was certified Gold by the RIAA for reaching sales of over 500,000.
Despite the success of their Number One debut single, album sales, and a nomination for the 2007 Grammy Awards for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the song "Leave the Pieces", both Harp and Branch announced in August 2007 that they were putting The Wreckers on hold, while both go forward with solo albums. This was announced on the band's official message board, which was later closed.
On February 4, 2008, she married The Wreckers' fiddle player Jason Mowery. She started recording her first solo country album for Warner Bros. Nashville in July 2008 and announced in January 2009 that it will be titled A Woman Needs. Songwriter Jerry Flowers produced the album and co-wrote several of the songs. The lead-off single, "Boy Like Me," was released to country radio on March 9, 2009. It became her first Top 30 country hit, reaching a peak of No. 30 in June 2009. The album's second single, the title track, was released to radio on January 19, 2010, and the music video was filmed on November 19, 2009. On March 2, 2010, Harp announced that she would retire as a recording artist to focus on becoming a full-time songwriter. Warner Bros. Records released her second album digitally on March 16, 2010. Over a year and a half later, on October 11, 2011, Harp announced on Twitter that Warner Bros. released her from her contract  and that she would record music again, either independently or with a label.