Hoop was born in Santa Rosa, California to traditional Mormon parents Janette and Jack Dennis Hoop, and grew up singing hymns and folk tunes with her family in four part harmony. She began singing in the Santa Rosa Chamber Choir before breaking away from her Mormon background at the same time as her parents separating, becoming a homesteader in the wilderness areas of Northern California, Wyoming and the high mountains of Arizona where Hoop also worked with a rehabilitation program for children.
Hoop began writing music and worked as a nanny for the children of Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan. Hoop's contact with Waits led to her initial exposure through Nic Harcourt at the Southern California radio station KCRW in 2003, with a six-minute demo recorded on a four track recorder. Tom Waits described Hoop thus: "Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night." The Los Angeles Times considered Hoop one of ten Southern California artists that are "new and notable in 2007." Hoop then signed to Columbia Records subsidiary "3 Records" and released her debut album Kismet in September 2007 in the US, but following a reshuffle at Columbia was dropped 3 months later.
Since then, Hoop has shared the stage with many acts and in 2007 toured with Polyphonic Spree and Matt Pond PA. In 2008 she toured with Elbow and Mark Knopfler, and then in 2009 toured with Greg Laswell, Elbow and Andrew Bird. Jesca headlined a tour of the UK and Ireland in February 2010, and France in March 2010. She also headlined her own tour of the UK in summer 2010, starting in Leeds on May 1.
Hoop announced in September 2008 that she would be releasing an album titled, Kismet Acoustic, in October 2008, featuring one new song and four acoustic versions of tracks from her debut CD. The album was released in the UK and Europe through her own record label, "Last Laugh".
In July 2009, Hoop announced that she had finished recording her second album, entitled Hunting My Dress, after moving to Manchester, England, on Guy Garvey's encouragement three months earlier. In September she posted the opening track to the record online and on November 30, 2009 the record became available in the UK and Ireland, with the US release in July 2010 through Vanguard Records.
In June 2010, she contributed the song "Angel Mom" to the Enough Project and Downtown Records' Raise Hope for Congo compilation. Proceeds from the compilation fund efforts to make the protection and empowerment of Congos women a priority, as well as inspire individuals around the world to raise their voice for peace in Congo.
Hoop toured with Eels for their US tour in the autumn of 2010 and their July 2011 UK tour. Also in late 2011, she toured with Peter Gabriel as a back-up singer for his US New Blood tour, and announced her upcoming album, The House That Jack Built. The album was released in the US through Bella Union.