If you’ve opened a google window while online today, you will see a colorful image of Yma Sumac. It is her 94th Birthday today, though she isn’t with us any longer, we should celebrate her! Yma is the only singer in history to have possessed a 5 octave voice. Everything about Yma was extraordinary! She was born September 13th, 1922 in Peru, though according to her she was born in an Indian village. She claimed to be an Incan princess, a direct descendent of Atahualpa, the last sovereign emperor of the Inca Empire. In 1946, the government of Peru supported her claim and she was noted as an actual Incan Princess.
By 1942, she had recorded 18 tracks and would be heard on the radio. She also married her best friend, Moises Vivanco on June 6, 1942, this was a big year for Yma! Sometime in 1946, Yma and her new husband moved to New York City where she sang in a trio with her husband and cousin Cholita Rivero. Yma and Moises gave birth to their son in 1949 and shortly after in 1950, Yma was signed with Capitol Records and her career soared, allowing her to perform at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall!
Yma finally became a citizen of the United States, in 1955 and a few years later divorced her husband Moises, but continued to excel and soar in her career. Many of Yma’s songs have been used in television shows, movies and her hit song “Bo Mambo” was used in a commercial for the liquor, Kahlúa.
Today, her song “Gopher Mambo” can be heard in movies, such as Ordinary Decent Criminal, Spy Games and the hit film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Popular artists such as the Black Eyed Peas have sampled her music for popular tracks like, “Put your hands up”
Yma passed away November 1st, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. At 86, she was suffering from Colon Cancer and was layed to rest at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the Sanctuary of Memories section, in Hollywood, California.
Happy Birthday Yma!