Brickell was born on March 10, 1966, in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas, to mother Larry Jean (Sellers) Linden and father Paul Edward Brickell. She has one older sibling, Laura. She attended high school at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. She attended Southern Methodist University until she joined a band and decided to focus on songwriting.
In 1985, Brickell was invited to sing one night with friends from her high school in a local folk rock group, New Bohemians. She would join the band as lead singer.
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