Yma Sumac was born as Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo on September the 13th 1922 and died November 1st 2008. She was a Peruvian soprano. In the 1950s, she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music. She became an international success based on her extreme vocal range, which was said to be well over four octaves and was sometimes claimed to span even five octaves at her peak. Yma Sumac recorded an vocal range of slightly over four octaves from B2 to C♯7 (approximately 123 to 2270 Hz).
Stories published in the 1950s claimed that she was an Incan princess, directly descended from Atahualpa. Her New York Times obituary reported that "the largest and most persistent fabrication about Ms. Sumac was that she was actually a housewife from Brooklyn named Amy Camus, her name spelled backward. The fact is that the government of Peru in 1946 formally supported her claim to be descended from Atahualpa, the last Incan emperor.
Chávarri adopted the stage name of Imma Sumack before she left South America. Yma Sumac first appeared on radio in 1942. Sumac and orchestra and bandleader Moisés Vivanco were married that year. She recorded at least 18 tracks of Peruvian folk songs in Argentina in 1943. These early recordings for the Odeon label featured Moisés Vivanco's group, Compañía Peruana de Arte, a group of 46 Indian dancers, singers, and musicians. In 1946 Sumack and Vivanco moved to New York City, where they performed as the Inka Taky Trio, Sumack singing soprano, Vivanco on guitar, and her cousin Cholita Rivero singing contralto and dancing. She was signed by Capitol Records in 1950, at which time her stage name became Yma Sumac.
|A variety of Yma Sumac's first releases from the Capitol range in the 1950ties|
During the 1950s, Yma Sumac produced a series of lounge music recordings featuring Hollywood-style versions of Incan and South American folk songs, working with the likes of Les Baxter and Billy May. The combination of her extraordinary voice, exotic looks, and stage personality made her a hit with American audiences. Sumac appeared in a Broadway musical, Flahooley, in 1951, as a foreign princess who brings Aladdin's lamp to an American toy factory to have it repaired. Capitol Records, Sumac's label, recorded the show. During the height of Sumac's popularity at the peak point she released "Mambo!" in 1954 as 10 inch album with Capitol. From todays point of view her most eccentric album of all her carrier, so it does not wonder that it is used to represent her web page today. Its mixture of south american folk elements with popular band arrangements typical for that period and a intonation style of the classic opera songs make her unique voice at this album a true legend. If you want to own a Yma Sumac album, this is the one which goes beyond all others and the must to have. Later she appeared in the films Secret of the Incas (1954) and Omar Khayyam (1957). She became a U.S. citizen on July 22, 1955. In 1959 she performed Jorge Bravo de Rueda's classic song "Vírgenes del Sol" on her album Fuego del Ande.
Apparently due to financial difficulties, Yma Sumac and the original Inka Taky Trio went on a world tour in 1961, which lasted for five years. They performed in 40 cities in the Soviet Union, and afterward throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Their performance in Bucharest, Romania, was recorded as the album Recital, her only "live in concert" record. Yma Sumac spent the rest of her life performing sporadically. As well later record releases had been rare and can be summarized as exotica in a strongly commercially classified music business. 1998 her music was part of a feature film by the Coen brothers, The Big Lebowski and the Cirque du Soleil show Quidam. In May 2006, Yma Sumac was awarded the main peruvian medal for El Sol del Perú. The same year, her song "Xtabay" became soundtrack of the German film The Austrian Method.
Read on soon, Volker
notes: most informations are from wikipedia and her web page.