WILLIAMSBURG — It is hard not to sit up and take notice of Liana Dagmar the first time you hear her sing.
Whether it was in a packed club in Virginia Beach in the mid-1990s, when she was the lead singer for the massively popular regional band, The Killroos; or you caught her as a solo acoustic act in a local brewery.
Categorizing Liana’s sound is a difficult task. One minute her husky vibrato evokes warm comforting memories of great singers from a bygone era such as Janice Joplin and Cass Elliot, yet as she breaks into her original material, you quickly realize that Liana is a force all her own.
Liana’s journey into becoming that force has been a long one, but one of which she never seemed to be in doubt of.
Born at Fort Eustis and growing up in Hampton, there was never a question of what she was going to do with her life.
“When I was five I announced that I was going to become a singer,” Liana said of her musical origins. “I would just randomly throw concerts at school. Fast forward to middle school and high school I was part of small vocal ensembles and that helped me to hone my vocal skills and teach me a lot about music and dynamics.”
Upon graduating high school she left Hampton and headed east for Virginia Beach with the intention of starting off her music career.
After catching on with the aforementioned Killroos, Liana said she developed her passion for performing.
“We just wanted to do our own interpretations of songs and that’s what we did and it was very popular,” Liana says of her early years on the Virginia Beach scene. “As the journey continued there were other bands and experiences acoustically. There were a lot of layers to it.”
Since then she moved up to the Williamsburg area and played shows on the weekends while raising her son. When she graduated from high school she was inspired to enter a new phase of her musical journey.
“I decided to take my guitar playing seriously,” Liana remembers. “I decided to start writing songs. I moved from Williamsburg to Richmond. I became a minimalist, just writing and performing.”
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Liana moved to Fayetteville, W.Va. There she found herself surrounded by guitar players and her skills strengthened as a result.
Being in a new locations gave her plenty of fodder for new songs.
“In Richmond the writing was coming in easy because of the storylines that were all around me,” she mentioned. “Being new in town and being a cyclist, I didn’t drive anywhere, I only cycled. I rode around a found situations. I had all this inspiration. Then when I moved to West Virginia and I was inspired by everything that was going on around me nature.”
Liana has managed to find her way back to Hampton Roads and in true troubadour fashion has taken up residence on a sailboat.
As to why she decided to return to the Hampton Roads area, she said she hopes to help cultivate an original music scene.
“There is an audience out there for what I am doing,” she says. “It would be nice to see a movement towards an original scene and if I can help be a part of that, on what ever scale that is, then I would like to.”