When Austin was four years old, she performed at the Apollo Theater. As a teenager she recorded commercial jingles and worked as a session singer in soul and R&B. She had an R&B hit in 1969 with "Family Tree". She sang backing vocals on Paul Simon's 1975 number-one hit "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". The jazz label CTI released her debut album, End of a Rainbow, in 1976. She sang "The Closer I Get to You" for Tom Browne's album Browne Sugar, a duet with Michael Jackson for his album Off the Wall, and a duet with George Benson on "Moody's Mood for Love". After singing on Quincy Jones's album The Dude, she signed a contract with his record label, Qwest, which released Every Home Should Have One with "Baby, Come to Me", a duet with James Ingram that became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard magazine pop chart. A second duet with Ingram, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing", appeared on soundtrack to the movie Best Friends (1982). GRP released her album Love Is Gonna Getcha, which contained the singles "Good in Love" and "Through the Test of Time".