Yma Súmac  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Yma Sumac (September 13, 1922 - November 1, 2008) was a noted soprano of Peruvian origin. In the 1950s, she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music, and became an international success based on the merits of her extreme vocal range well over three octaves.

Lounge music

During the 1950s, Yma Sumac produced a series of legendary 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 even 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. The show's score was by Sammy Fain and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, but Sumac's four numbers were the work of Vivanco. Capitol Records, Sumac's label, recorded the show. Flahooley closed quickly but the recording continues as a cult classic, in part because it also marked the Broadway debut of Barbara Cook.


During the height of Sumac's popularity, 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 popularized Jorge Bravo de Rueda's classic song "Vírgenes del Sol" on her Fuego del Ande LP.


  • At least 20 tracks of Peruvian folk songs in Argentina in 1943 for the Odeon Records label, with. Moisés Vivanco's group, Compañía Peruana de Arte—a group of 46 Indian dancers, singers and musicians. (Three additional tracks are instrumentals or feature other vocalists.)(10" 78rpm).
  • Voice of the Xtabay (1950), Capitol Records CD-244 (78rpm set)
  • Flahooley (1951), Capitol DF-284 (78rpm set)
  • Legend of the Sun Virgin (1952), Capitol DDN-299 (78rpm set)
  • Inca Taqui (1953), Capitol L-243 (10" LP)
  • Voice of the Xtabay & Inca Taqui, (1955) Capitol W-684 (both on one 12" LP)
  • Mambo! (1954), Capitol T-564 (10" LP)
  • Legend of the Jivaro (1957), Capitol T-770 (12" LP)
  • Fuego Del Ande (1959), Capitol T-1169 (Monophonic); ST 1169 (Stereo) (mono and stereo versions were separate recordings) (12" LP)
  • Recital (1961), EDE-073 (12" LP) - Reissued on CD, ESP-DISK' 4029 (2006)
  • Miracles (1971), London XPS 608 (12" LP) - Reissued on CD as Yma Rocks! (1998), JOM-1027-2
  • I Wonder on Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, 1988 (one of Various Artists).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Yma Súmac" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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