Nenéu Liberalquino was born in Pernambucmo de Canhotinho, a city in the Northeast of Brazil. He began studying guitar on his own at the age of sixteen. In order to play the guitar, due to his very small size, Nenéu had to create a new technique which diverges from the standard classical approach by its unique use of the left hand and the horizontal playing position of the instrument. Nenéu uses all five fingers of the left hand. Their extreme flexibility and stretch allow him to play chords impossible to realize by the formal technique and to develop a new harmonic conception adapted to the guitar.
Nenéu Liberalquino attended the Federal University of Pernambuco. When he left with his diploma in 1982, he decided to devote himself entirely to a career in music. After a brief study in Brasilia and São Paulo in the areas of composition, orchestration and harmony, Nenéu left for the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for two and a half years.