A virtuoso performer and composer, Liona Boyd is known internationally as "The First Lady of The Guitar." Her Gold and Platinum selling records have been awarded the music industry's top honours, including five Junos. Her artistry bridges the gap between Classical and Pop, and she has collaborated with many renowned performers such as Sir Andrew Davis and the English Chamber Orchestra, John Williams and the Boston Pops, Yo Yo Ma, Georges Zamfir, Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton and David Gilmour. Liona has appeared in television specials around the world and has graced symphony halls in the Far East, theatres, community halls, and stadiums across North and South America, opera houses in Europe and castles in England where she has performed recitals for the British Royal Family.
Liona Boyd's life had always been a whirlwind of composing, recording and touring, but in 2003 she was diagnosed with the "incurable neurological disease" of Task Specific Focal Dystonia. She was devastated to discover that her beloved guitar was the cause. Years of repetitive guitar movements had caused her brain maps for the right hand fingers to lose their clarity and the neuroreceptors to smudge. Even a simple arpeggio had become uncoordinated. This was the condition that derailed the careers of many performers such as renowned pianists Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman.
For many years Liona had tried to determine what was going wrong with her fingers until doctors at the The National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C. told her that nothing could ever restore her playing. They claimed the damage was irreversible. She was determined to find a solution and consulted specialists around the world while witnessing her playing deteriorate. In 2003, realising she could no longer perform to her own high standards, she left the concert stage.
Until the release of this CD only a few close friends and family have known about her condition. Seeking a way to use the guitar in a less demanding fashion, and an outlet for her creativity, Liona decided to take up singing, something she had never felt possible ever since she was thrown out of a choir at the age of six. Nevertheless, in 2004 she began songwriting and moved from Los Angeles to Miami. While there she discovered a guitarist from Dubrovnik, Srdjan Givoje, who before coming to the USA had been part of a famous Simon & Garfunkel style duo in Croatia. His voice and Liona's seemed to have a special magic together, and adding his harmonica and whistling resulted in a unique sound. Liona flew to Europe to meet with Djelo Jusic, Croatia's most revered and loved classical composer, who gave her permission to write English lyrics to some of his haunting melodies that had never been heard outside his country.
After relocating to Connecticut, Liona made a CD with Srdjan and her music producer friend, Joanne Perica. With the exception of one song, Liona wrote all of the lyrics and composed many of the melodies. She also persuaded the European publishers of two mega hits in Spanish and Italian, "Abrazame" and "Caruso," sung respectively by Julio Iglesias and Lucio Dalla, to let her write English lyrics to these two songs for the first time. Srdjan set about arranging the majority of the guitar duets and the vocal harmonies while Liona contributed some of the more elaborate guitar parts. Having written poetry since she was a child and being "an incurable romantic," Liona now had a chance to express herself in a whole new medium. She realised that Focal Dystonia, which had seemed such a curse in her life, had actually opened up a new door and had blessed her with her second career as a singer/songwriter. Her "Little Sea Bird" seems an obvious allegory for her own life struggles. Liona still has to contend with Focal Dystonia, and may never be cured, but through painstaking retraining she has been able to make some progress. She writes, "I'm thrilled to have found such a fulfilling way to deal with this challenging condition. Focal Dystonia has led me on a tough but fascinating journey of self discovery. I've poured my heart and soul into these songs. I'd like to dedicate them to all those who long for romantic love and to those who believe in their own impossible dreams. I'm also determined to warn fellow musicians who may not be aware how much they can be harming their brain through over-practice."
Liona's affection for melody and words is evident throughout this recording. Her guitar still speaks with the special touch, tenderness and passion that has always characterized her playing. Srdjan's guitar skills and tenor voice provide a perfect accompaniment. Listening to this lovely collection of songs, we are about to discover a whole new dimension to Liona Boyd.