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Yma Sumac


Yma Sumac (born September 10, 1922?), also spelled Ymma Sumak, is a noted vocalist of Peruvian origin. In the 1950s she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music. She is remembered chiefly for her amazing voice, which at the time, covered a range between four and five octaves (opinions differ).

Sumac, Yma [Emperatriz Chavarri] (s) Peruvian-born/U.S. b. Ichocan,
Sep. 10, 1927; her origin is veiled in mystical mistery; she was
said to have been a descendant of Inca kings, an Incan princess that
was one of the Golden Virgins. Reportedly her real full name is said
to be (Zoila Emperatriz Ch varri Sumac del Castillo) Sumac was
reared in the Andes; it is credible that she developed her
phenomenal voice of over 4 octaves in range because of breathing
enough oxygen at the high altitude. She was billed by unscrupulous
promoters as an Inca princess, a direct descendant of Atahualpa, the
last emperor of the Incas. According to the Sumac legend, she was
the sixth child of an Indian mother and an Indian/Spanish father,
who raised her as a Quechuan. She began performing in local
festivals before her family moved to Lima, Peru. On the other hand,
some columnist spread the scurrilous rumor that she was in actuality
a Jewish girl from Brooklyn whose real name was Amy (retrograde of
Yuma) Camus (retrograde of Sumac). She sang over Radio Belgrano in
Buenos Aires (1942). American soprano Grace Moore heard her while
on tour in Lima and offered to help her get to the U.S. she only
arrived in (1947). She sang at Carnegie Hall and with symphony
orchestras in Montreal, Toronto and at the Hollywood Bowl; some
thought she should have been a top coloratura in the opera house,
but she became a pop cult. Her offbeat style became a phenomenon of
early-'50s pop music. It mattered little because there has been no
one like her before or since in the annals of popular music. By the
end of the '50s, Sumac's audience had begun to decline, sensing the
erosion of her popularity, Sumac retired in the early '60s, without
leaving any word or her location. She performed a handful of
unannounced concerts in the mid-'70s, and in 1987, she played New
York's Ballroom nightclub for a total of three weeks; she also had a
stint in a Los Angeles club that same year.


Sumac may have been born on September 10, 1922 in Ichocá, Peru as Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo. Other dates mentioned in her various biographies range from 1921 to 1929. Some sources [1] alternately claim that she was not born in Ichocán, but in a nearby village or possibly in Lima,

To complete BIOGRAPHY