Leah Chase-Kamata was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to jazz trumpeter and restaurant owner Edgar "Dooky" Chase, Jr. and his wife Leah Chase, a renowned Creole chef. She was raised in the Tremé area of New Orleans. She has a brother Edgar III and a sister Stella.
Growing up in a musical family, Chase-Kamata cites her father's love of jazz and her mother's penchant for vocalists like Johnny Mathis as influencing her musical preferences – jazz and ballads. Her singing talent was recognized at an early age. She joined the high school choir Xavier Prep. and studied voice and piano at Xavier University Junior School of Music. She also sang in the New Orleans Recreation Department Theater's production of Hallelujah Baby. Later, she attended Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and earned a degree in vocal performance, majoring in classical voice.
Her first professional gigs were singing pop hits with a group called Market, and also portraying a "woman of the blues" in a Las Vegas-type show.
She also went to New York to study jazz music as the Julliard School of Music, however, she left after a year. She came back to New Orleans and did a stint of cabaret singing at Chateau Sonesta for about a year. He