Terry Evans eventually became a soulful, gospel-flavored vocalist fronting a band, but his career took many steps to reach that pinnacle. Like many blues artists, his first exposure to music was in church, where he sang in the junior choir. As is often the case, his parents allowed him to sing only gospel, but on the sneak, he listened to blues artists such as Elmore James, Little Walter, Albert King, and B.B. King. His first break was as a member of a Southern vocal group, the Knights. From there, he moved to Southern California and began picking up guitar and writing songs. Among the songs he wrote were "Love Is a Precious Thing," which was recorded by Pops Staples, and "Hop, Skip, and Jump," recorded by Louis Jordan.
In the '70s, he performed as a duo with Bobby King on the chitlin circuit, playing their brand of Stax-styled soul and gospel. A hard-working performer, Evans continued with King while at the same time working as a background vocalist for Ry Cooder, both on Cooder's albums and in his touring band. Evans' breakthrough came during the movie Crossroads, where he sang lead on "Down in Mississippi" and the title piece.