Comprised of singer Maggi Jane and guitarist/singer Pierce Ternay, Hymn for Her are an introspective, acoustic-oriented folk-rock duo whose members are also part of the Philadelphia-associated folk-rock trio Maggi, Pierce & E.J. (also known as MPEband). Maggi Jane and Ternay, who began performing together as Hymn for Her in 2007, comprise two-thirds of Maggi, Pierce & E.J.; Hymn for Her is Maggi, Pierce & E.J. without bassist/singer E.J. Simpson (who has also played piano, mandolin, and other instruments). Stylistically, Hymn for Her is not a major departure from Maggi, Pierce & E.J.; their songs are not radically different, but Hymn for Her has had more of a minimalist outlook. Using fewer instruments, Hymn for Her has favored a decidedly intimate, stripped-down approach.
Thanks to their work with Maggi Jane in Maggi, Pierce & E.J., Ternay and Simpson have been closely identified with the Philly folk scene. But before Ternay and Simpson were part of Maggi, Pierce & E.J., they were part of a totally different group: the Goats, an interracial alternative rap act that recorded for Ruffhouse/Columbia (distributed by Sony Music) in the early '90s. Because of their abundance of sociopolitical lyrics, the Goats were often compared to Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions (BDP), and KRS-One. But they also had some of the alterna-rap quirkiness of groups like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, the Jungle Brothers, and the Pharcyde. Despite recording for a well-known label (Cypress Hill, the Fugees, Lauryn Hill, Kris Kross, and Tim Dog were all part of the Ruffhouse roster in the 1990s) and receiving their share of favorable reviews, the Goats never became well known, but they did enjoy a small cult following.
After recording two albums for Ruffhouse (1992's Tricks of the Shade and 1994's No Goats No Glory), the Goats broke up. But Ternay and Simpson stayed busy, forming Maggi, Pierce & E.J. with Maggi Jane in 1995 (the year in which MPEband self-released their first album, The White Album, on their own label, EMPrecords). A major stylistic departure from the Goats, Maggi, Pierce & E.J. emphasized folk-rock — and instead of being compared to Chuck D, KRS-One, and 2 Black 2 Strong, Maggi, Pierce & E.J. found themselves being compared to the Mamas & the Papas, Peter, Paul & Mary, Joni Mitchell, 10,000 Maniacs, and Joan Baez. In the late '90s and early to mid-2000s, Maggi, Pierce & E.J. toured North America extensively and self-released several albums on EMPrecords that helped them acquire a small but enthusiastic following in singer/songwriter, adult alternative, and coffeehouse circles. Hymn for Her's first album, Year of the Golden Pig, was released in 2008, but the birth of Hymn for Her didn't mean the end of Maggi, Pierce & E.J. — not at all. In fact, Maggi Jane, Ternay, and Simpson recorded a new Maggi, Pierce & E.J. album in 2008.