is a Peruvian singer
with one of the most spectacular vocal ranges (four and a half octave
s) and styles ever heard. Her given name is Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo; Ima Sumack (or Imma Sumack in other parts of South America
) is her stage name
, based on her mother's name. She is from Ichocan, Peru
, a town high in the Andes
. At an early age, she was 'discovered' and performed on radio
, in movies
and made records throughout South America.
Her Early Career
She came to the United States in the forties performing with a small group of musicians and dancers and was finally contracted by Capitol Records in 1950. She made a series of records on the Capitol Records label mostly singing exotic Hollywood versions of Incan and South American folk songs, all of which are available today on Compact Disc. Her last Capitol Records recording was in 1959.
In 1961, she toured the Soviet Union for six months singing to sell-out crowds and an album, called Recital was produced in Romania of the show in Bucharest. Recital was recently reissued on Compact Disc in the U.S. and is called: Yma Sumac - Live in Concert 1961 - The Russian Tour - her only 'live in concert' record ever issued. Featured in the tour were the original "Inca Taki Trio" which was composed of Yma Sumac, Cholita Rivero (who provided backup vocals and dancing) and Moisés Vivanco on guitar. She also did a number of shows later in the '60s in the U.S., most notably at New York's Château Madrid in 1968.
The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
Her next complete album, Miracles , a Rock "tour de force", was recorded in 1971 and released in the U.S in 1972 on the London Records label. After that, she spent many years living in Peru and composing many songs, which she now sings in concerts. She also cut a track for Stay Awake , a 1987 recording of Disney songs interpreted by various modern artists. She performed in concert from time to time during the '70s in Peru and later in New York. In the 80's, she had a number of concerts both in the U.S. and abroad including at New York's The Ballroom in 1987 and several San Francisco shows at the Theatre on the Square among others. In 1989, she sang once again at The Ballroom in New York. March of 1990 found her playing the role of Heidi in Stephen Sondheim's "Follies," in Long Beach, California - her first attempt at 'serious theater' since "Flahooley" in 1951. She also did several concerts in the summer of 1996 in San Francisco and Hollywood and two more in Montreal, Canada in July 1997 as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
She can be seen in the 1954 Paramount film Secret of the Incas and the 1957 Paramount film Omar Khayyam. The 1961 concert in Bucharest was filmed and broadcast for Romanian television. There was also a documentary made for German television about her in 1992 called Yma Sumac: Hollywoods Inkaprinzessen (Hollywood's Inca Princess). It is not available in the U.S or in Europe.