Evans played piano, violin and clarinet as a young child before switching to drums. She studied under Warren Smith and Sonny Igoe, and graduated in 1969 from the High School of Music and Art. (Later, Evans earned a BA in Music from Columbia University, as well as a Master of Music and Doctorate from the Juilliard School.) She soon became one of the top recording percussionists in New York,recording jingles, movie scores, and numerous albums with many jazz, folk and pop artists. She was Judy Collins's touring drummer from 1969 to 1973, and worked with Gil Evans from 1969 to 1982. In the 1970s she worked with Steve Kuhn, Art Farmer, Bobby Jones, George Benson, Urbie Green and Roswell Rudd's Jazz Composers Orchestra, in addition to playing with The New York Pops, the New York Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. In the 1980s, she worked with Michael Franks, Suzanne Vega, Tony Bennett, and Morgana King. Other associations include touring or recording with Aretha Franklin, Sting, Spike Lee, James Brown, Billy Cobham, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Philip Glass, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Don Sebesky, Sadao Watanabe, Hubert Laws, Randy Brecker, David Sanborn and Terence Blanchard. She also played the Tony Awards for several years, as well as the Grammy Awards.
Evans won National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Most Valuable Awards in 1984, 1987 and 1989.