Liona Boyd, known as "The First Lady of the Guitar" has introduced millions around the world to the art of classical guitar through her concerts, television specials, and twenty recordings, many of which have gone "Gold" and "Platinum".
Her grandmother came from Linares, the city in which Andres Segovia was born, and her father grew up in Bilbao, but Liona Maria Boyd was born in London, England. She came to Canada at age eight and gave her first "concert" on the treble recorder as part of the ocean liner's talent competition. At age thirteen she asked her parents for a guitar as a Christmas present. After hearing a concert by the great English guitarist, Julian Bream, Liona was determined to master the instrument. While still a teenager she took private lessons with Eli Kassner, Narcisco Yepes, Alirio Diaz, Julian Bream, and the legendary guitarist Andres Segovia who wrote "I predict that Liona will have a magnificent career."
Liona Boyd completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Performance at the University of Toronto where she graduated with honors and won first prize in the Canadian National Music Competition. After two years of private study with Alexandre Lagoya in Paris, Liona returned to North America and recorded her first album for Boot/London Records. After her debut at Carnegie Recital Hall the New York Times praised her "flair for brilliance."
Liona gave concerts around the globe and had the opportunity to play for dozens of world leaders such as the British Royal Family, the King and Queen of Spain, Presidents of the United States and Mexico, the prime ministers of Canada, France, and Britain, and the Chancellor of Germany, as well as at NATO and Summit Conferences. Invited by Moscow's Mayor Gavrill Popov, Liona became the first Canadian to perform at the Kremlin when she played at an exclusive New Year's Eve Gala, and she was the first performer at the new Bastille Opera House in Paris. Her guitar music filled concert halls all the way from Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangkok, New Delhi, Edinburgh, Paris, Auckland, Frankfurt, Santiago, Rio, Bogotá, Havana, London, to Copenhagen, Lisbon and Mexico City.
Liona made her musical presence felt in North America by performing solo concerts in every major city and often working with symphony orchestras such as The Boston Pops. She has recorded with Sir Andrew Davis and the English Chamber Orchestra, Yo Yo Ma, Georges Zamfir and Michael Kamen. Breaking with classical tradition she toured with Gordon Lightfoot and Tracy Chapman, and recorded with Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, David Gilmore, and Roger Whittaker. She has been a special guest on dozens of American TV shows including The Tonight Show, Today Show, Nightline, and Entertainment Tonight. A highly successful recording career for CBS/Sony Records brought her music to a vast international audience. The Canberra Times in Australia wrote "breathtakingly beautiful playing, the most musically accomplished and technically flawless playing that I have heard from any guitarist."
Liona often performs from her repertoire of original compositions and music composed especially for her. Her playing was featured in the 20th Century Fox film, "A Walk in the Clouds," which won a Golden Globe Award for best musical score, the Hemmingway film "A Dream of White Elephants' and Disney's " A Kid in King Arthur's Court". Liona's virtuoso talents have resulted in five gold and three platinum albums, five Juno awards (Canada's equivalent of the Grammy), five honorary degrees, and The Order of Canada. She is also a five time winner of the Guitar Player Magazine poll for best classical guitarist and has been inducted into their "Gallery of Greats." CBC produced several one-hour specials including "Romancing the Guitar - The Life and Times of Liona Boyd" and "Opening Night." Liona's autobiography "In My Own Key - My Life in Love and Music" became a best seller, while her music videos are frequently seen on Classic Arts Showcase and PBS.
In 2002 Liona pursued her passion for Latin culture and love of the Spanish language. She combined popular Latin rhythms with romantic Spanish guitar music in her CD "Camino Latino/Latin Journey". It featured dynamic guest performances by Al di Meola, Steve Morse, Jesse Cook, Strunz and Farah, Johannes Linstead, Pavlo, Luis Villegas and Innis. "Living in Mexico as a teenager I fell in love with the country, the food, the dancing and, of course, the music! Whenever my concert tours have taken me to South and Central America I have felt a special rapport with my audiences." In addition to playing solo and orchestral concerts, Liona toured with a "Nuevo Latino" band, and special guest, Pavlo.
After spending much of her life based in Toronto, Canada Liona resided in Beverly Hills, California for 14 years while married, then relocated to Miami in 2004 after divorcing and deciding to stop performing due to Musician's Focal Dystonia. She moved to Connecticut in 2007 where she reinvented her guitar technique, recorded two new CDs , added singing to her live concerts, and in 2010 returned to California and to the concert stage. She now resides in Santa Monica.
Universal Music released a milestone CD called "Liona Boyd Sings Songs of Love"...with Srdjan Givoje, two voices and two guitars. It contains seventeen love songs including"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"and "Baby Maybe", her latest music video. "Seven Journeys...music for the Soul and the Imagination" a subsequent collaboration with Peter Bond was described as "Vangelis meets Enya meets Morricone"
Liona wrote "Music contributes profoundly to the richness and beauty of our life experience. I feel so fortunate to be able to share this wonderful international language with people around the world."