Before Sugarland's inception, she also fronted Atlanta, Georgia-based bands called Soul Miner's Daughter and Jennifer Nettles Band. She also charted as a duet partner on the country version of rock band Bon Jovi's 2006 single "Who Says You Can't Go Home," a Number One hit on the Billboard charts.
Nettles attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia she and Cory Jones - who was studying classical guitar at the University of Georgia - formed Soul Miner’s Daughter. Performing as both an acoustic duo and with a band, they released two albums: The Sacred and Profane in 1996 and Hallelujah in 1998, both of which were composed of songs written collaboratively by Jones and Nettles.
In 1999, she formed the Jennifer Nettles Band, with whom she released three studio albums and two live albums. The band was the grand prize winner from more than 2000 bands in "The Big Deal $100,000 Music Search" and was invited to perform at Lilith Fair in 1999.
In 2003, Nettles teamed up with Kristen Hall and Kristian Bush to form Sugarland and within three years, thet were was nominated for a Grammy award in the Best New Artist category. Although they did not win the award, Nettles and Bush performed during the show.
In 2006, Kristen Hall left the group and Nettles and Bush continued on as a duo releasing Enjoy the Ride in November 2006. Their third album, titled Love on the Inside, was released on July 22, 2008.