Liona Boyd

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Liona Boyd
Birth name Liona Maria Carolynne Boyd
Born (1949-07-11) July 11, 1949 (age 67)
London, England
Genres Classical music
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Guitar, Piano, vocals
Years active 1962–present
Labels Boot, Columbia, RCA, CBS Masterworks, A&M, Moston/Universal

Liona Maria Carolynne Boyd, CM, O.Ont (born 11 July 1949), is a Canadian classical guitarist, composer, songwriter and singer. Boyd was born in London, England, moved to Canada with her parents when she was eight years old and became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1975. She lives in Toronto, Canada and winters in Palm Beach, Florida.

In 2012 Liona Boyd was given the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Governor General of Canada.


Boyd's father grew up in Bilbao, Spain and her mother grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Her grandmother was from Linares, Spain, where the classical guitarist Andrés Segovia was born.

On the family's emigration to Canada, she performed her first concert in a talent show on the ocean liner during the voyage. She played "The Blue Bells of Scotland" on a treble recorder.

Boyd received her first guitar as a Christmas present when she was 13. Her parents "had bought it (the guitar) in Spain when she was 6 years old".[1]


As a teenager Boyd took lessons with Eli Kassner, Narciso Yepes, Alirio Díaz, Alice Artzt, and Oscar Ghiglia. She attended a masterclass with Julian Bream. She performed twice for Andrés Segovia, who listened to her pieces and gave her coaching tips.

In 1972, Boyd graduated with honours from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performance.[2] The same year she won the Canadian National Music Competition, held in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

From 1972 to 1974, she studied privately in Paris with Alexandre Lagoya, a French classical guitarist. She revealed in her autobiography that she lost her virginity to him.[3] In 1973, while studying with Lagoya, she busked on the streets of Nice for extra money.[4]

She has won the Juno Award for Instrumental Artist of the Year five times.[5]

Performing career[edit]

In 1975, after her New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall, Andrés Segovia wrote a prescient message on a card and passed it to Boyd: "Through your beauty and talent you will conquer the public, philharmonic or not." [6] Since her New York debut, Liona Boyd has performed thousands of concerts in dozens of countries around the world.

In late November 1975, Boyd undertook a six-week tour of northern British Columbia and the Yukon performing in high schools, churches, and hotel dining rooms. "Tradition has it that folk and pop artists pay their dues playing to rough crowds in smoky bars; I was paying mine in all the remote, snowbound communities of northwest Canada", wrote Boyd in her autobiography.[7] In the mid-1970s Boyd played many recitals at guitar societies across North America.

Liona Boyd

In 1977 Boyd performed for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the National Arts Center in Ottawa, Canada. In 1975-78 Boyd opened for singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot in concerts across North America. She toured Europe with Tracy Chapman in November and December 1989 and performed in Frankfurt and Munich the week the Berlin Wall came down. Boyd played a concert on Adnan Khashoggi's yacht Nabila, the day it was christened.[8]

Recording career[edit]

In 1974, Boyd released The Guitar, her first record. The recording was produced by Eleanor Sniderman, wife of Sam Sniderman, owner of Canada's Sam the Record Man stores. The Guitar was released in Canada on Boot Records, a label started by Stompin' Tom Connors, a country singer-songwriter from Prince Edward Island. Boyd also released The Guitar Artistry of Liona Boyd and Miniatures for Guitar in Canada on Boot Records in the 1970s.

The Guitar and The Guitar Artistry of Liona Boyd were distributed in the United States and England by London Records. London released the "The Guitar" with the title of "Classical Guitar." [9]

In 1976 Boyd joined SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) and established Mid-Continental Music, her publishing company.

Liona Boyd has recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra; as well as with Chet Atkins, Yo Yo Ma, Gheorghe Zamfir, The Canadian Brass, Frank Mills, Roger Whittaker, André Gagnon and Strunz & Farah, the Toronto Children's Chorus and the Orpheus Choir. In 1986 she recorded Persona with rock guitarists David Gilmour and Eric Clapton. The project was produced by Michael Kamen. In 1995 she recorded several of the themes in the music by Maurice Jarre to A Walk in the Clouds. The music won the Golden Globe for best score. She released Camino Latino/ Latin Journey in 2002, a record that features guest performances by Strunz and Farah, Al Di Meola, Steve Morse, Jesse Cook, Johannes Linstead, Pavlo, Innis and Luis Villegas. In 2009 she released Liona Boyd Sings Songs of Love with Croatian American singer Srdjan Givoje. She produced a music video for the single Baby Maybe. She also released Seven Journeys: Music for the Soul and Imagination, which was co-written with Peter Bond.

In the autumn of 2013 she released the 15 song album "The Return ... To Canada with Love" which featured instrumental pieces and vocal songs. "The Return" features special guests such as Olivia Newton-John, Dan Hill, Daniel Lavoie and many others. It was produced by Peter Bond and also features her accompanist, Michael Savona.

1970 to 1979[edit]

Liona Boyd released six records between 1974 and 1979: The Guitar/Classical Guitar (1974), The Guitar Artistry of Liona Boyd (1975), Miniatures for Guitar (1977), The First Lady of the Guitar (1978), The First Nashville Guitar Quartet (1979) and Liona Boyd with Andrew Davis and the English Chamber Orchestra (1979).

In 1979 Liona Boyd won the Juno award for Instrumental Artist of the Year.

1980 to 1989[edit]

Boyd released six records between 1980 and 1989: Spanish Fantasy (1980), A Guitar for Christmas (1981), The Best of Liona Boyd (1982), Virtuoso (1983), Liona Live in Tokyo (1984), The Romantic Guitar of Liona Boyd (1985), Persona (1986), Encore (1988), Christmas Dreams (1989) and Highlights (1989).

In 1982, 1983, and 1984 Boyd won Juno awards for Instrumental Artist of the Year.

In 1986, Boyd recorded the breakthrough album Persona, a mixture of Rock, New Age and Classical, with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and guitarists David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton.

1990 to 1999[edit]

Boyd released four records between 1990 and 1999: Paddle to the Sea (1990), Dancing on the Edge (1991), Classically Yours (1995) and Whispers of Love (1999).

In 1996 Liona Boyd won the Juno award for Instrumental Artist of the Year.

2000 to 2009[edit]

In 2002 Boyd released Camino Latino, an album of original compositions in the nuevo-Latino style. The record features guest artists Al Di Meola, Jesse Cooke, Steve Morse, Luis Villegas, Pavlo, Johannes Linstead, Ron Korb, and Strunz and Farah.

Following a diagnosis of focal dystonia after the release of Camino Latino, Boyd was compelled to change the way she plays guitar. She reinvented herself by developing her songwriting and singing skills and playing less demanding guitar arrangements.[10]

Liona Boyd released two records in 2009. Liona Boyd Sings Songs of Love, seventeen duets with Srdjan Givoje, was released in September. Seven Journeys: Music for the Soul and Imagination, a collaboration with Peter Bond, was released in November.[11]

2011 to present[edit]

In 2011 Liona returned to live in Canada after spending a year in Santa Monica, CA. She spends her winters writing music in Palm Beach, Florida. In late 2011, Liona and producer Peter Bond began to collaborate on a new album of 15 songs she composed, inspired by Canada, called "The Return… To Canada with Love" and released by Universal Music Canada in September 2013. In 2013 Liona released a theme song for Toronto and a music video for the song. She was given a proclamation by the mayor of Toronto and the City Council. She also released a single called Happy To be A Snowbird. In 2014 Liona released her third Christmas album called A Winter Fantasy. In December 2015 she released a 90-minute compilation called Relaxing Guitar. In 2013 and 2014 she made two music videos: My Special Christmas Present is You and O Holy Night. In 2015 she recorded No Remedy for Love which will be released by Moston/Universal in 2016.


In 1987, she collaborated with Rik Emmett, Alex Lifeson and Ed Bickert on "Beyond Borders," an Emmett composition released as a soundsheet in Guitar Player Magazine.

Boyd once played a private recital for the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing.[12]

At Judge Lance Ito's request, Boyd performed a private concert for the sequestered jury during the O J Simpson trial.[13]

Boyd appeared on the cover of The Canadian magazine in 1975. In the story she was referred to as "The First Lady of the Guitar", a sobriquet that she has been identified with ever since. In 1978 Boyd released a record entitled The First Lady of the Guitar.

In 1988, Stoddard Publishing of Toronto, Canada published Boyd's autobiography In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music.[14] In it she revealed her eight-year romance with former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.


Title Label Year
The Guitar/Classical Guitar Boot/London 1974
The Guitar Artistry of Liona Boyd Boot/London 1975
Miniatures for Guitar Boot/CBS Masterworks 1977
The First Lady of the Guitar Columbia 1978
The First Nashville Guitar Quartet RCA 1979
Liona Boyd with Andrew Davis and the English Chamber Orchestra CBS Masterworks 1979
Spanish Fantasy CBS Masterworks 1980
A Guitar for Christmas CBS Masterworks 1981
The Best of Liona Boyd (compilation) CBS Masterworks 1982
Virtuoso CBS Masterworks 1983
Liona Live in Tokyo CBS Masterworks 1984
The Romantic Guitar of Liona Boyd CBS Masterworks 1985
Persona CBS Masterworks 1986
Encore A & M 1988
Christmas Dreams A & M 1989
Highlights (compilation) A & M 1989
Paddle to the Sea Oak Street 1990
Dancing on the Edge Moston 1991
Classically Yours Moston 1995
Whispers of Love Moston 1999
The Spanish Album (compilation) Moston 1999
Passpot to Serenity (compilation) Moston 2000
Camino Latino Moston 2002
Romanza (compilation) Moston 2005
Liona Boyd Sings Songs of Love Moston/Universal 2009
Seven Journeys: Music for the Soul and Imagination (Liona Boyd and Peter Bond) Moston/Universal 2009
The Return...To Canada with Love Moston/Universal 2013
A Winter Fantasy Moston/Universal 2015


  1. ^ "Liona Boyd Interview". Guitarhoo!. May 19, 2004. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Liona Boyd", The Canadian Encyclopedia
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Liona Boyd (1998). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 80. 
  5. ^ "Juno Awards". Juno Award. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  6. ^ Liona Boyd (2008). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 65. 
  7. ^ Liona Boyd (1998). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 100. 
  8. ^ Liona Boyd (1998). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 215. 
  9. ^ Album Jacket for LONDON ffrr (Full Frequency Range Recording) No. CS7015
  10. ^ "Liona Boyd: Singer". The National. 15 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  11. ^ Dixon, Guy (6 November 2009). "Liona Boyd: five years of healing, two new albums, one rebirth". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  12. ^ Liona Boyd (1998). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 135. 
  13. ^ Liona Boyd (1998). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 344. 
  14. ^ "In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music". AMICUS: The Canadian National Catalogue. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 

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