Open main menu

Liona Maria Carolynne Boyd, CM, O.Ont (born 11 July 1949) is a classical guitarist often referred to as the First Lady of the Guitar.[citation needed]

Liona Boyd
CM, O.Ont
Background information
Birth nameLiona Maria Carolynne Boyd
Born (1949-07-11) 11 July 1949 (age 70)
London, England, UK
GenresClassical, new-age
Years active1962–present
LabelsBoot, Sony, Columbia, RCA, Polygram, CBS Masterworks, Moston

Music careerEdit

Early yearsEdit

Boyd was born in London and grew up in Toronto.[1] Her father grew up in Bilbao, Spain, and her mother in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Her grandmother was from Linares, Spain, the birthplace of the "king of the classical guitar", Andrés Segovia. During her family's first of two ocean voyages to Canada she made her debut performance playing "Bluebells of Scotland" on a treble recorder in a talent show on the ship.

When she was thirteen, she was given her first guitar, a Christmas present which her parents had bought in Spain seven years earlier.[2] She took lessons from Eli Kassner, Narciso Yepes, Alirio Diaz, Julian Bream, and Andres Segovia.

Boyd received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto in 1972, graduating with honors. After graduation she studied privately for two years with Alexandre Lagoya in Paris. [1][3]


In 1975, she performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.[1] Andres Segovia sent her a note that said "through your beauty and talent you will conquer the public, philharmonic or not."[4] During the same year, she toured northern British Columbia and Yukon, paying her dues in front of rough crowds, as she writes autobiography, in the tradition of pop and folk musicians.[5] She also toured as the opening act for with Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot.[1]


In 1974, Boyd released her debut album, "The Guitar". It was produced by Eleanor Koldofsky[6] and was released on Boot Records. The record was distributed internationally by London Records. In 1976, Boyd joined SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, and established her own publishing company, Mid-Continental Music. In 1989 her album Christmas Dreams appeared on the RPM 100 Top Albums chart. To date she has 3 platinum and 4 gold albums in Canada. [7]

As of 2018, she has recorded 26 studio albums, made a live recording from Tokyo, created over 25 music videos, and produced three compilation recordings.

During her career, Boyd has recorded with Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, Al Di Meola, Rik Emmett, David Gilmour, Alex Lifeson, Steve Morse, Canadian Brass, André Gagnon, Yo Yo Ma, Frank Mills, Strunz & Farah, Roger Whittaker, Gheorghe Zamfir, Pavlo, Jesse Cook, and Olivia Newton-John.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1988, Stoddard Publishing of Toronto, Canada published Boyd's autobiography In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music.[9] In it she revealed her eight-year romance with former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.[1] In 1992, Boyd moved to Beverly Hills, California, where she married John B. Simon, a real estate developer.[1]

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

After divorcing in 2004 she relocated to Miami and started a guitar duo with Srdjan Gjivoje. In 2007 she moved to New Canaan, CT, to make a record with him called Liona Boyd Sings Songs of Love. They subsequently toured together. She released a new age album titled Seven Journeys which was co-written with her producer Peter Bond. In 2010 she lived in California once more. In 2011 she purchased a house in Palm Beach, Florida but made her home base in Toronto where she recorded 3 more albums produced by Peter Bond. She and accompanist Michael Savona toured Canada extensively. In 2016 Liona formed a new touring duo with Andrew Dolson.

In August 2017, Dundurn Press reissued Boyd's first memoir In My Own Key and published her second memoir, No Remedy for Love.[11]

In 2017 Liona filmed A Winter Fantasy, a live Christmas special that was broadcast in December 2018 on several PBS stations including WNED-TV in Buffalo, New York.

In 2018 Blackstone Publishing released an audiobook of Liona reading In My Own Key, her autobiography.

Awards and honoursEdit

  • Instrumental Artist of the Year, Juno Awards, five times
  • Gallery of the Greats, Guitar Player Magazine
  • Classical Guitar Musician of the Year, Guitar Player, five times
  • Order of Canada, 1982
  • Order of Ontario, 1991
  • Vanier Award, 1978
  • Prix Esprit du Ciècle[8]
  • Diamond Jubilee Award, 2013
  • JoAnn Falletta competition Lifetime Achievement, 2018


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 (with Chet Atkins) 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 and new recordings) 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 and new recordings) Moston 1999
Passport to Serenity (compilation) Moston 2000
Camino Latino Moston 2002
Romanza (compilation and new recordings) 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
The Relaxing Guitar of Liona Boyd (digital only compilation). Moston/Universal 2016
No Remedy for Love Moston/Universal 2017


  1. ^ a b c d e f Cummings, Robert. "Liona Boyd | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Liona Boyd Interview". Guitarhoo!. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Liona Boyd" Archived 8 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The Canadian Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Liona Boyd (2008). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 65.
  5. ^ Liona Boyd (1998). In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music. Stoddard Publishing. p. 100.
  6. ^ "Liona Boyd", The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  7. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums". RPM Magazine Volume 50, No. 24 October 14, 1989.
  8. ^ a b "Awards & Collaborations". Liona Boyd. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  9. ^ "In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music". AMICUS: The Canadian National Catalogue. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  10. ^ "Liona Boyd: Singer". The National. 15 November 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  11. ^ "Liona Boyd releasing new CD and autobiography, No Remedy For Love on August 19". That Eric Apler. 20 July 2017.

External linksEdit