Yma Sumac

In the 1950s, Peruvian singer Yma Sumac was a hit with audiences around the world thanks to her four-octave range. She was a performer on albums, in concerts, and in movies. Yma Sumac, the singer, was born in Cajamarca (Peru) on September 13, 1922. She arrived in America in 1946 and found success singing. Her voice was more than four octaves high. Although her fame declined in the 1960s, she still gave concerts and has a loyal following. Sumac was 86 years old when she died in Los Angeles on November 1, 2008. Early Life Zoila Augusta Emeratriz Chavarri Del Castillo was born in Cajamarca (Peru) on September 13, 1922. Her birth year has been listed as 1925 and 1927. She was born in Peru to a family she said is descended from Atahualpa, the Incan emperor. After growing up, she began performing in Lima and moved to the United States in 1946. She began her singing career in Peru as Yma Suemac. Career Success She was a singer who had a voice that covered more than four octaves (Sumac said she could sing five). She became a popular singer in New York City and appeared on radio, television, and in clubs. Sumac was also a performer on the “Borscht Belt” circuit. Her first album, Voice of the Xtabay (1950), and her 1951 Broadway appearance in the musical Flahooley made her a superstar. Sumac’s Incan heritage was highlighted in promotional materials. She wore heavy jewelry and extravagant clothes to maintain an exotic appearance. Unfounded rumors that Sumac was the Brooklynite Amy Camus (Yma Sumac spelled backwards) started to circulate, causing some backlash. The rumor didn’t stop people from wanting to hear Sumac sing. At the concerts she performed across America, Europe, and South America, Sumac’s incredible vocal range was evident. Mambo was one of her many hits. (1954) and Fuego del Ande (1959). In Secret of the Incas (1954), she was also seen with Charlton Heston (1957) and Omar Khayyam (1959). Personal life In 1942, Sumac married Moises Vivanco. He had previously worked with her in Peru during the early stages of her career. Vivanco was with Sumac on her first trip to America. She also performed with her in Inca Taqui Trio, before she became a solo artist. Vivanco and Vivanco were both twins from another woman in the 1950s. They were remarried but divorced again in 1965. Charles was the first child of Sumac and Vivanco. Later Years Sumac’s popularity declined over the 1960s. Although she did occasionally give concerts over the decades, and she also released a failed rock album called Miracles in 1972, Sumac mainly stopped performing. Her music was heard on many film soundtracks, including The Big Lebowski (1998). Her career was further explored by the documentary Yma Sumac, Hollywood’s Inca Princess (1992). In 2006, the Peruvian government awarded Sumac the Orden del Sol (Order of the Sun), in recognition of her achievements. A star was also given to her by the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sumac was diagnosed in February 2008 with colon cancer. She died at the age of 86 in Los Angeles on November 1, 2008.

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