Waterfall, whose grandfather changed the family name from Wassenfallen after immigrating from Switzerland, has played music from earliest memory. Classically trained as a pianist, she taught herself to play guitar while in high school. Despite her talents, however, her parents discouraged her musical interests. As a student at Stanford University, Waterfall focused on visual art. After she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, she resumed her involvement with music after moving to Seattle in the mid-1970s.
Waterfall initially attracted audiences as a member of Entropy Service, one of Seattle's best pre-grunge bands. Briefly playing bass in a country-rock band, the Skyboys, she became a solo singer/songwriter in 1976. Her debut album, Mary's Garden, was released in 1977. Originally released on Waterfall's own label, Trout Records, the album was reissued by Windham Hill and became one of the soon-to-be New Age label's first releases. Two years later, Waterfall was named Seattle's best solo artist in a poll conducted by The Seattle Sun and KZAM. Waterfall's fourth album, Everything Looks Different, was recorded in 1983 with virtuosic guitar player Scott Nygaard.
Her a cappella choral piece, "Trees, " was written in collaboration with Maple Elementary School fifth graders in 1989 and first performed by the Mt. Madonna Choir in 1992. The piece was recorded by the Mt. Madonna Choir on their CD Clear Day of Grace. Waterfall has often relied on her training in classical music, composing several choral pieces under the auspices of the Seattle Arts Commission. She musically adapted six fables in French by Jean de la Fontaine ("Fables de Jean de la Fontaine") and six poems by Walt Whitman ("Leaves of Grass"). The first of her adaptations of Whitman's poems was included on her 1992 album Body English, while four additional adaptations were included on her 1998 album In the Presence of the Light. Waterfall's ten minute-long composition, "So Much Love, " was scored for choir, guitar, electric bass and harp and was partly based on quotations from the New Testament. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi