Chavez was born January 21, 1965, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States, and raised in Marietta, Georgia. She moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1986 to follow her ambition of becoming a singer-songwriter.
After moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1986, she auditioned for a number of bands, made the rounds of the Minneapolis music scene, and paid her bills working in a coffee shop. She met Prince in a pub in late 1987, having written to him. Impressed by Chavez's voice and poetry, Prince took Chavez under his wing. She was known as The Spirit Child on his 1988 Lovesexy album. Prince encouraged Chavez to write 21 poems with the promise that they would make a poetry album together. When she finished her poems, she and Prince went into the studio. Prince sat at a keyboard and played while Chavez read through all 21 of her poems. This was the original recording that would later become her only album ever released on the Paisley Park label. Shortly after this session the project was put on hold indefinitely.
In 1989, Chavez formed a band called Skyfish with Richard Werbowenko. They created a six-song album released only on cassette. Chavez ran into Prince a year or so later and handed him a copy of the Skyfish demo. Shortly after the exchange, Prince contacted Chavez and wanted her to listen to a track that he had just finished with the poem "Heaven Must Be Near". Prince asked Chavez to finish the poetry album.
It was at this time that Chavez was asked to play the part of Prince's romantic interest in his 1990 film Graffiti Bridge. During the filming Chavez went into the studio with Lenny Kravitz and Andre Betts and co-wrote and recorded what became Madonna's sultry 1990 hit "Justify My Love". She received a large out-of-court settlement for not being credited on the single's release.
In 1992, not long after recording vocals with David Sylvian for the songs "Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)--Returning to the Womb" and "Cloud #9" on Ryuichi Sakamoto's 1991 album Heartbeat, Chavez married Sylvian, and over the years contributed her trademark breathy vocals to a number of her baritone-voiced husband's releases.
During the mid-1990s, Chavez worked with Sylvian and Werbowenko on a second solo album titled Little Girls with 99 Lives. Chavez and Sylvian sent out demos to record labels and close friends, yet could not strike up interest in a deal. The album would have included tracks entitled "Lighthouse", "Snowfall", "Whose Trip Is This?", "Starred and Dreaming", "Kall/Les Fleurs Du Mal", and "Remembering Julia"—the latter four of which can be found as B-sides on the 2-CD UK single of David Sylvian's "I Surrender". Little Girl with 99 Lives Ep is scheduled for digital release in 2016 through Ingrid's Ten Windows records.
In 1996, Tommy Roberts, a former Minneapolis recording engineer who recorded the Skyfish demo, contacted Chavez and asked her to be in a band with him. She joined the band, called Ova, and recorded a four song EP and an E.P.K. Chavez became pregnant and decided to let go of the project and focus on her family.
Chavez teamed up with Chicago native, Marc Valentin to form the duo Black Eskimo in 2011. The 12-song full-length Deep & Heady CD was released on November 25, 2013 via Bandcamp. Their song "My Sky" won for Song of the Year (Spoken Word Category) at the 14th Annual Independent Music Awards. In celebration of this award the My Sky Poetry and Music Journal was released. This was the first album released in a physical format as a poetry and music journal.
Chavez is currently working on a new solo album slated for a 2017 release.
Chavez has a son, Tinondre, born circa 1984, who lived in Atlanta, Georgia for a time. She also had two daughters, Ameera and Isobel, with English singer and musician David Sylvian, whom she married in 1992 and divorced twelve years later.
Chavez currently lives in New England with her children focusing on photography, writing and a new recording project.
May 19, 1992, Chavez's debut solo album, was released in 1991 on Paisley Park Records. (The title is the first anniversary of the date the cover art was photographed). The album was initially intended to set her spoken-word poetry to music supplied by Prince. It was recorded gradually from late 1987 to mid-1991. When Warner Bros. pushed for the album to have sung vocals in place of the spoken word, Prince abandoned the project. Five of the album's tracks ("Elephant Box", "Slappy Dappy", "Jadestone", "Whispering Dandelions" and "Heaven Must Be Near") ended up as spoken word with atmospheric music by Prince under his Paisley Park alias, and the remainder were relatively poppy tracks with sung vocals, co-produced by Ingrid with Prince's studio hands Michael Koppelman and Levi Seacer, Jr.. The singles "Hippy Blood", "Heaven Must Be Near", and "Elephant Box" were released as singles (along with club remixes).
A Flutter and Some Words is Chavez's second album, released on January 25, 2010 on her own label, Ten Window Records. It consists of Chavez's poetry and lyrics set to the instrumentation of Lorenzo Scopelliti (aka Saffron Wood) and Richard Werbowenko (on the title track) and recorded by Alessandro Mazzitelli.