Scialfa grew up in the Jersey Shore community of Deal, New Jersey. She was the middle child of Joseph Scialfa and Patricia Scialfa. Her father was of Sicilian ancestry and her mother is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She also has half-siblings from her father's second marriage. Her father was a successful local entrepreneur, who started with a single television store and became a real estate developer. Scialfa graduated from Asbury Park High School in 1971. Scialfa was writing songs from an early age and first worked professionally as a back-up singer for New Jersey bar bands after she completed high school. In 1994, she stated in a Lear's Magazine interview that she had little talent for anything but music and that she attended college as a way to further her ambitions as a performer while also satisfying parental expectations. She has a music degree from New York University, earned after she transferred from the University of Miami's jazzconservatory at the Frost School of Music.
While in college, Scialfa was submitting original material to other artists in the hope that it would be recorded. However, none of her songs were recorded, and after graduating, Scialfa worked as a busker and waitress in Greenwich Village. Together with Soozie Tyrell and Lisa Lowell, she formed a street group known as Trickster. For many years, she struggled to make her way in the songwriting and recording industry in New York and New Jersey before playing at Folk City and Kenny's Castaways in Greenwich Village, as well as Asbury Park's The Stone Pony. Scialfa had a brief role in The Stone Pony's house band Cats on a Smooth Surface. These gigs won her notice and, eventually, recording work with Southside Johnny and David Johansen. In 1984, Scialfa joined the E Street Band, three or four days before the opening show of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour. In 1986, she appeared on the Rolling Stones' Dirty Work album, leaving her vocal mark on "One Hit " as well as other tracks. She worked with Keith Richards on his first solo albumTalk is Cheap. Steve Jordan, who co-produced the Richards record, was a friend of Scialfa's from her Greenwich Village days. Scialfa maintains her music industry friendships over many years. Her friendship with Soozie Tyrell and Lisa Lowell pre-date their mutual work as background vocalists and musicians on the Buster Poindexter 'aka' David Johansen album in 1987; Lowell and Tyrell have since worked on various Springsteen-Scialfa recording projects and Tyrell, violinist, has recorded and toured with Springsteen and the E Street Band. Scialfa has recorded three solo albums, 1993's Rumble Doll, 2004's 23rd Street Lullaby and 2007's Play It As It Lays. Her first two albums received four-star reviews from Rolling Stone, while the third got three and a half. Her records are a mix of confessional songwriting, impressive vocal range, and traditional country, folk and rock music. Springsteen and fellow E Street bandmates, like Lofgren and Roy Bittan, contributed backing work. Following the release of her second album, Scialfa played a series of club dates along the East Coast and she was also the opening act of the post-final night of the Vote for Change tour. When asked during the press conference for the NFL Super Bowl in 2009 whether she was working on a new album, she confirmed that she was. She confirmed again, during an interview on the radio show Bruce Brunch on 105.7 Hawk radio, on April 10, 2011 that she had written most of the songs for her fourth album and just needed to find time to record it.
In the early 1980s, Scialfa met Springsteen at the Stone Pony, a New Jersey bar. Although initially reluctant, Scialfa joined the 1984 Born in the USA tour, postponing the recording of a solo record. After the tour, Scialfa started a short-term relationship with actor Tom Cruise. In the spring of 1988, Springsteen separated from his first wife, Julianne Phillips, and Scialfa and Springsteen started living together shortly afterward. Springsteen and Phillips's divorce was finalized in 1989. Scialfa and Springsteen first lived in New Jersey together and later in New York for a short time before moving to Los Angeles, California, where they started a family. On July 25, 1990, Scialfa gave birth to the couple's first child, Evan James Springsteen. The couple married on June 8, 1991, at their Los Angeles home in a ceremony attended by family and close friends. Their second child, Jessica Rae Springsteen, was born on December 30, 1991, and a third child, Samuel Ryan Springsteen, was born on January 5, 1994. The family returned to New Jersey in the early 1990s and now lives in Colts Neck, New Jersey. They also own homes in Wellington, Florida, near West Palm Beach, and Los Angeles.
23rd Street Lullaby –
Play It As It Lays –
Contributed a song called "Children's Song" to the charity album Every Mother Counts, the song is a duet with her husband, Bruce Springsteen '''