Walker was born in Atlanta, Georgia to a British father and an American mother, who eventually divorced. From 2016 to 2018, Walker had a small cleaning business, while she was simultaneously stripping in Atlanta. She taught herself how to play the guitar by watching tutorials on YouTube.
Walker was discovered by a woman who has the same name as her and works as the studio manager of an Atlanta-based label LoveRenaissance. On October 19, 2018, Summer Walker released her debut commercial mixtape Last Day of Summer, supported by her lead single “Girls Need Love”. Her album contained her thoughts on love, doubt, and womanhood. In late 2018, she went on tour with 6LACK on the From East Atlanta With Love Tour. Following the success of her album, Apple Music named Summer Walker as its newest Up Next artist in 2019, and became the #8 R&B artist worldwide across Apple Music. On January 25, 2019, she released her first EP titled CLEAR, consisting of four tracks of acoustic recordings. On February 27, 2019, she released the remix to her song “Girls Need Love” with Drake.
On August 23, 2019, Summer Walker released “Playing Games” as the first single for her debut studio album, Over It. The song, which contains an interpolation of Destiny’s Child’s number-one hit “Say My Name” was produced by London on da Track. On September 12, 2019, Walker revealed that Over It would release on October 4 via LVRN/Interscope Records. Along with her album announcement, she shared the official artwork. She will support Over It with her accompanying The First and Last Tour, which kicks off on October 20. Due to her social anxiety, Walker canceled the remaining 20 out of 29 dates on the tour committing to 9 of them. On November 17, 2019, Summer Walker won her first BET Soul Train Music Award for Best New Artist, she later received backlash from fans for her short speech and was accused of faking her social anxiety.
Walker has said that she draws inspiration from Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, and Erykah Badu. Her sound has been described as slow groove R&B.