Besides her gospel background, Penny Ford's musical roots run deep down into her family tree. Daughter of veteran record executive and producer Gene Redd Sr. (King Records) and singer Carolyn Ford and sister to singer Sharon Redd (the dance classic "Beat the Streets"), Ford was exposed to a lot of music early on as a result of her father's work with James Brown and Kool and the Gang. Her formal background began at age five when she began taking piano lessons. Ford began performing in local talent shows in and around Cincinnati. During her 1979 summer school vacation, Ford went out on tour with Dayton, OH, funkateers Zapp as a part of Parliament-Funkadelic's World Funk Tour. The following year, she was gigging in a series of dates in Japan.