Brooks was the second youngest of 11 children, born to a full-blooded Native American mother and an African-American father. She once told an interview of her mother and laughed, "I knew she was different when she couldn't comb my hair. She told me to ask a neighbor to do it. I have my father's kinky hair."
Brooks first displayed her talent by singing gospel music in church. At age seven, she took part in her siblings' gospel group called the Little Gospel Tears, where they sang in Brooklyn. While attending P.S. 73, she was discovered in an after-school program by Dolores "Dee Dee" Kenniebrew and her mother, who invited her to join the Crystals as a replacement for a departing member. Brooks accepted this invitation.
After leaving the Crystals, she married jazz musician Leo Morris (also known as Idris Muhammad) in 1966; the union brought two sons and two daughters. Shortly thereafter, she converted to Islam with him, going under the name "Sakinah Muhammad." She then helped him write and record his material over the years. In 1968, she appeared in the original Broadway production of the musical Hair, where she performed the song "Aquarius." She would later appear in the Broadway show Two Gentlemen of Verona in 1971. She also toured with and recorded for various artists (such as the Neville Brothers, Bobby Womack and Isaac Hayes), made short appearances in films, and contributed songs to different movie soundtracks (including the 1970 film Cotton Comes to Harlem). In 1971, she reunited with Dolores "Dee Dee" Kenniebrew, Mary Thomas, and Barbara Alston as the Crystals and toured and performed in rock-&-roll revival shows. Their touring lasted until 1973 when the members decided to devote their time to their families.
In 1983, she and her family moved to London, England where she and Morris continued their careers in music. In 1990, they moved to Vienna, Austria where she continued singing and writing songs with Morris and also hosted a local radio show; they lived in Vienna until 1997. Andrew Edge sang backing vocals her on her BMG (Austria) CD LaLa Brooks & Friends in 1994. In 1999, she and Morris separated but have remained on good terms since then. Brooks moved back to the United States at the turn of the century and resides in the East Village. She is also now a grandmother of three.Brooks currently has her own band and is performing the hits her fans know