Born in London, England, Liona Boyd moved to Canada with her parents when she was eight years old. She performed her first concert playing The Blue Bells of Scotland on a treble recorder in a talent show on the ocean liner. That same year she had won first prize in her infant’s school for writing the best story. Five years later when she was thirteen she asked her parents for a classical guitar as a Christmas present. It changed her life. Five-time Juno award-winner for Instrumental Artist of the Year, Liona Boyd became known around the world as a classical guitar virtuoso and composer, and has now added singing and songwriting to her illustrious career.
Since 1975, when she made her Carnegie Recital Hall debut, Liona has been called "The First Lady of the Guitar”. Through her concerts, television specials, and twenty-eight releases on
London, Sony and Universal, many of which attained Gold and Platinum status, Liona introduced millions of people around the world to the art of classical guitar. The Canberra Times in Australia wrote "breathtakingly beautiful playing, the most musically accomplished and technically flawless playing that I have heard from any classical guitar performer."
Liona has five honorary doctorates, the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the Diamond Jubilee Medal, is the five-time winner of Guitar Player Magazine’s Best Classical Guitar Musician poll and has been inducted into their “Gallery of Greats.” CBC has broadcast several one-hour specials including Liona Boyd in Havana, Romancing the Guitar - The Life and Times of Liona Boyd and Opening Night. Liona penned a best-selling autobiography, In My Own Key - My Life in Love and Music (1999, Stoddart). Her second autobiography, No Remedy for Love was released by Dundurn Press in the fall of 2017.
Liona performed around the globe, playing for dozens of world leaders including the British Royal Family (Liona still regularly communicates with her friend Prince Philip and was invited to perform again in Windsor Castle in 2017), the King and Queen of Spain, presidents of the United States and Mexico, prime ministers of Canada, France, and Britain, and the chancellor of Germany. Her classical guitar music has filled concert halls in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangkok, New Delhi, Edinburgh, Paris, Auckland, Frankfurt, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, Bogotá, Havana, London, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Mexico City, to name but a few, and across the United States and Canada.
Liona made her musical presence felt in North America by performing solo concerts in almost every state, 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 The Canadian Brass. Liona has performed for G7 Leaders at an economic summit in Quebec, for NATO Ministers of Defense in Ottawa, across Latin America as part of a Canadian anti-nuclear-proliferation tour, for the jurors of the OJ Simpson trial, and at the Kremlin during a World Presidents’ Organization convention.
Breaking with classical tradition, Liona toured with popular artists Gordon Lightfoot and Tracy Chapman, and has recorded with Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Roger Whittaker and Olivia Newton-John, among others.
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.
After spending most of her life in Toronto, Canada, Liona married in 1992 and resided in Beverly Hills, California. Alongside her passionate involvement in music she devoted herself to many charitable causes, helping to raise millions of dollars for causes she believes in.
In 2003, Liona left the stage for six years as over practice had given her Musician’s Focal Dystonia in one of her right hand fingers. She ended up divorcing, reinvented her guitar technique, pursued a life long dream to learn to sing, and returned triumphantly to the stage and recording studio.
Liona moved around the continent and relocated several times before returning to live permanently in Canada in 2011. Earlier in 2009 Universal Music Canada had released two milestone albums Liona Boyd Sings Songs of Love with guitarist/singer Srdjan Gjivoje, and Seven Journeys, Music for the Soul and the Imagination, a collaboration with Peter Bond, described as “Hauntingly beautiful… emanating from a timeless realm” by renowned film director Deepah Meta.
Liona is now an accomplished singer and songwriter. For her video and single The Toronto Song she received a proclamation from the Mayor and Toronto City Council. After two years of composing, and recording, Liona released The Return...to Canada with Love in 2013. This ambitious project featured fifteen tracks, both instrumentals and songs including a patriotic song dedicated to Canada, with special guest appearances by fellow Canadian artists Jann Arden, Randy Bachman, Michel Bérubé, Divine Brown, Dan Hill, John McDermott, Daniel Lavoie, Richard Margison, Mark Masri, Serena Ryder, Robert Pilon, Michael Savona and CBC personality, Ron Maclean amongst others. The Return included special guest performances by astronaut and singer Chris Hadfield, Grammy nominated flutist Ron Korb, accordionist Mark Lalama and singer Olivia Newton-John. She released a lyrics video of Canada My Canada using landscape photography, and has performed this song with choirs across the country.
Liona continues to tour in Canada and the USA., played in France at Vimy Ridge for the Wounded Warriors in 2013 and Universal released her third Christmas album, A Winter Fantasy, in 2014 which combines traditional carols interwoven with her own original themes. A music video to O Holy Night can be seen on YouTube and Liona’s online videos now have over six million views. Liona's latest release is the 17 song album No Remedy for Love, featuring guest artist Ronnie Hawkins on her tribute song Lightfoot, and the four time Juno award winner Jack Grunsky on Song For Ontario.