Wanda Maria Ribeiro Furtado Tavares de Vasconcelos was born in Mangualde, Portugal. When her father was called up to fight in the Portuguese Army, the family moved to Mozambique. Her parents divorced and, in 1968, Wanda moved with her mother and new stepfather to Brussels, Belgium, where her sister, actress Helena Noguerra, was born. In her teens she was determined to become a singer, and she was encouraged by singer-songwriter Jacques Duvall (né Eric Verwilghem), a family friend. She took her stage name, Lio, from a character in the Barbarellacomic books by Jean-Claude Forest.
In 1979, together with songwriter Jay Alanski, she and Duvall began working with Marc Moulin and Dan Lacksman from the electro-trio Telex. "Le banana split", which sold over 1 million copies, and "Amoureux solitaires", a song originally by punk rock band Stinky Toys. Both songs rose to the top of many pop charts in France, and Moulin and Lacksman also produced her self-titled first album. In 1982 the American music duo Ron and Russell Mael, of Sparks, worked with her on the album Suite Sixtine, on which some of her previous songs were translated into English. Suite Sixtine was compiled and art directed by Ralph Alfonso for Attic Records Canada, where it was originally released. Her second album, Amour toujours, was produced by Alain Chamfort and released in 1983. The same year, she first appeared on the screen in Chantal Akerman's film Golden Eighties, a lighthearted, humorous French pop musical about the people who work together in a Parisian shopping center. Lio plays a carefree hairdresser in the movie.
In 1985 she met record company executive and producer Michel Esteban, of ZE Records. She continued to have hit singles in Europe, including "Les brunes comptent pas pour des prunes", and travelled to Los Angeles with Esteban to record her next album Pop model. Several of the tracks were co-produced by John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground, and the album produced the hits "Fallait pas commencer", "Je casse tout ce que je touche", and "Chauffeur". In 1988, after she had given birth to a daughter with Esteban, she resumed her acting career, starring in Claude Lelouch's film Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté. The Lio-Esteban partnership produced another album, Can Can, recorded in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro. She also designed a fashion collection for the European department store chain Prisunic.
She appeared in three films in 1990 and 1991, Chambre à part, Sans un cri, and Après l'amour. Her 1991 album, Des fleurs pour un caméléon, was produced by Étienne Daho - she had already contributed vocals for one of Daho's earliest and biggest hits, "Week-End À Rome". Daho was given carte blanche in the studio because Lio was busy shooting a film ; however, when his work was over, he showed no interest in promoting the album with her, limiting the success of the album. Her next album, Wandatta, presenting a more mature approach in contrast with her previous image, and with a sleeve designed by Guy Peellaert, was released in 1995. However, it was relatively unsuccessful, and she withdrew for a time to live near Angoulême with her partner and children. In 1998, she recorded with Esteban in Cuba, and in 1999 she appeared in 50 performances of the French adaptation of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, a musical staged at the Folies Bergère. She had two kids that year. She released the single Je suis comme je suis and the album Chante Prévert containing interpretations of the poems of Jacques Prévert, in 2000. After performing the songs on tour throughout France, Europe and North Africa, she released the live album Cœur de rubis in 2004. She also appeared in over 250 performances of the theater play Le bébé, an adaptation of a book by Marie Darrieussecq staged by Marc Goldberg.