Inara Maryland George was born in Baltimore, Maryland. At the time, her late father, Lowell George, was recording the Little Feat album, Feats Don't Fail Me Now. He died of a heart attack on June 29, 1979 at age 34.

She grew up in the Topanga Canyon area of Los Angeles and tried ballet, studied acting, and appeared in stage productions at the outdoor Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.

In 1993, Inara, Gabriel Cowan, Robin Moxey, and Lonn Baker, friends from high school, formed a band called Lode. The band and their mixtures of blues and grunge sounds toured California and Colorado, along with the House of Blues in West Hollywood. They went on to win a contract with the Geffen label and released the album Legs & Arms in 1996. The record made no major impact on pop sales charts.

With ambitions of becoming a Shakespearean actress, George spent three semesters as a student at Emerson College in Boston. Soon, she began writing songs with thoughts of returning to the music scene. She soon paired up with songwriter Bryony Atkinson to form the duo Merrick and the two went on to release four albums on small labels between 1998 and 2001. Merrick disbanded the following year and George had begun to assemble the team that would propel her to solo success.

In 2005, Inara George released her first solo album, All Rise, which appeared on the Everloving label. Michael Andrews, who had written the score to the hit film Donnie Darko, produced and co-wrote much of the material on that album. All Rise was a success with critics like Ryan Dombal of Entertainment Weekly, who wrote that "George's soothing, girlish vocals float above her sometimes-downcast, sometimes-poppy songs like a waft of warm air."

The next project Inara George found herself working on was with multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin. The project arose after Kurstin, who played keyboards on All Rise, and George discovered that they both enjoyed classical jazz. The two named themselves the Bird and the Bee and released their first album, which was self-titled, in 2006. Several EPs, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, and Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates were later released.