Monday, November 19, 2007

YMA SUMAC


The queen of exotic records in the 50s was Yma Sumac. I'm guessing she was Peruvian. She took exotic elements from all over the world, including Polynesia, and blended them with her own native Peruvian music to make a mix that was full of mystery and the promise of adventure.




Sumac had a unique voice that could sing comfortably in five octaves. People were always asking, "Who's the guy she sings with?" Well, the guy was Yma sumac. She was a whole ensemble, all by herself .






Here she is (above) in the Andes.




Here she is in Mike F's harem (above). How did she get in there? Man, Mike is gonna be mad when he finds out!

20 comments:

Mark Kausler said...

Eddie,
This is one of your best posts yet. I had my mother's 78s of "Voice of the Xtabay" when I was a kid, and loved "Hymn to the Sun God", which I believe is featured in the first clip you posted. I played it hundreds of times on the old Victrola. In all these years I have never SEEN Yma perform until you embedded these clips! She certainly was an exotic beauty in the late 1940s. It's clear she is just singing to her own playback in the color clips. There is a black and white clip included in the other You Tube windows that shows her really singing, and she breathes a lot more noticeably in that one. It's also interesting that her appeal is almost entirely aural, I didn't really gain any more appreciation of her sound from SEEING how she looked. Her trick voice is endlessly fascinating to me, especially her jazz growls. It's hard to believe her range, to go from a very high soprano to a Blanche Calloway type riff, but it's there and it's real. There must be other 1940s films she made in Peru, or where ever her home base was that are extant. Maybe You Tube will link to those someday! Again, thanks for showing me a woman whose singing I have admired for more than 50 years!

Marlo Meekins said...

wow ! cool costumes

Steven Finch, Attorney At Law said...

I picked up a couple of Yma Sumac albums for about a buck when I went upstate to visit my folks last summer--I've only had the chance to listen to them a couple of times, though, because I had to leave them there with all my other records; wish I had more room in my apartment...

I.D.R.C. said...

I like how she do the spooky arms on the mambo album. I'd like to hear that one.

Lester Hunt said...

With the sole exception of Bobby Darin,Yma Sumac is my favorite singer from the classic period of "lounge" music. Yes, she was from Peru. She claimed to be an Inca princess, directly descended from Atahualpa. I've always suspected she must have been the inspiration for the diva Plavalalunga in "The Fifth Element." If so, that must be the only time anyone has even dared to imitate her I'm-from-another-planet style!

MikeSnj said...

Very very nice stuff. I'll definetly have to check her out.

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Anonymous said...

There MUST be sound footage of Louis Farrakhan when he was a rising calypso singer in the 1950's. He was good.

Ken Mitchroney said...

And dig that crazy lettering man! I just love the 50's fonts and all of the hip jacket designs of the era. Nice Eddie.

Pete Emslie said...

Yma Sumac is great! In the last 20 years or so, as all of the wonderfully bizarre music of a bygone era has been repackaged and marketed under the umbrella title of "Lounge", I've been introduced to all manner of great singers and musicians. I just love the "Exotica" sound of Yma Sumac, along with such instrumental legends as Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Hey Eddie, are you familiar with Esquivel? I'd imagine that his music would be to your tastes too.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Mark: Glad you liked it! 50s exotica was a great field. It wasn't about other cultures the way they actually were, but the Indiana Jones-way that we perceived them to be, which is a great idea!

Did you see the YouTube video with Sutherland, Callas and Sumac all together? Sumac held her own nicely.

Pete: Esquivel? Sure, I know him. I wonder if TouTube has any of his videos. I'll check it out. Baxter and Denny were great but the music didn't always measure up to the cover art.

Taber said...

Oh wow... is that voice for real? It sounds so unearthly the way she slides up and down the scale. And I thought that blue lady from the 5th Element had a cool voice!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: Haw! Funny link!

pappy d said...

Wow! She's still alive!

http://www.yma-sumac.com/index.htm

And signing autographs! (Some restrictions apply. See website for details.)

lastangelman said...

Yma is still kickin' and singin'. I first heard of her when I bought a rock album called Miracles in the remainder bin at college. WOWIE-KA-ZOWIE!

Anonymous said...

hey eddie you have the funnist laugh ever plese repond

Kevin Langley said...

Mambo is such an incredible album. She has one the greatest voices ever.

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

That's awesome! I love fifties and sixties exotica, lust and tiki culture!

Anonymous said...

Yma Sumac is really a New Jersey housewife named "Amy Camus" (spell that name backwards). At least that is the story her manager/husband spread when she was divorcing him!

Alfredo said...

Yam Sumac died today at the age of 86 victim of cancer.