Brenda Warren grew up in Detroit, Michigan and began playing piano at age four and started piano lessons when she turned eight at the Detroit Conservatory of Music. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelors degree in music composition. After graduation she continued studying with Windham Hill recording artist William Mathieu. Her senior thesis at San Franisco State was a musical comedy called "Breakfast in Marin" which was eventually produced and ran in San Francisco for one year. It was nominated for a Cable Car Award for best original musical.