The Incas: Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Inca Trail, Music

Yma Sumac, Virgenes del Sol, Lima, Peru, May 2006

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Yma Sumac

Yma Súmac (1922-2008), was a Peruvian singer with one of the most spectacular ranges and styles ever heard (an amazing four-octave range). She mixed Hollywood pizzazz with indigenous Incan songs splendidly. Yma Sumac, from Ima Shumaq, Quechua for "beautiful flower" or "how beautiful!", was born in Cajamarca, Peru as Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo. Sumac was said to have been a descendant of Inca kings, an Incan princess that was one of the Golden Virgins

On May 6, 2006, Sumac flew to Lima, where she was presented the Orden del Sol award by Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and the Jorge Basadre medal by the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. She was also presented with the Key to the City of Lima on May 15th.

Video Description: Virgenes del Sol, author: Jorge Bravo Rueda

Jorge Bravo de Rueda (September 13, 1895 - November 22, 1940), was a Peruvian pianist and composer. He was born in Chancay, Peru. Inspired by the huaynos of Andean music, he composed the internationally popular tune for guitar and pan flutes "Vírgenes del Sol" possibly the second best-known Peruvian song worldwide after "El Cóndor Pasa." Source: Wikipedia, Jorge Bravo de Rueda.

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The Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection
Yma Sumac
Release Date: 01/11/2000

Editorial Reviews
The Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection may very well live up to its title; at the very least, it's likely the most comprehensive overview of her recordings yet assembled. Therefore, the question is, is it better to go with a collection (which contains three previously unreleased cuts and four rare stereo mixes) or an official album, namely her Voice of the Xtabay, which Richie Unterberger calls her "first and most popular release."

Since that first album isn't quite as pop-oriented as some of the material on The Ultimate, it may seem that the collection is preferable, yet that's not really the case.

Sumac is a bit of a cultural artifact, so she makes the most sense in the context; hence, the album makes a bit more sense than the compilation. However, there is very, very little overlap between Voice of the Xtabay and The Ultimate, so the collection not only functions as a nice supplement to the record, but neophytes who decide they want to sample an overview instead of diving into the proper albums will not be disappointed by repeated tracks when they go to the Voice.

Any way you look at it, The Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection is a good compilation of a difficult artist to anthologize. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide.

Singer with an amazing four-octave range, Yma Sumac was said to have been a descendant of Inca kings, an Incan princess that was one of the Golden Virgins. Her offbeat styling became a phenomenon of early-'50s pop music.

According to the Sumac legend, she was the sixth child of an Indian mother and an Indian/Spanish father, who raised her as a Quechuan. She began performing in local festivals before her family moved to Lima, Peru. Once she was in Lima, she became a member of the Compania Peruana de Arte, which was a collective of nearly 50 Indian singers, musicians, and dancers. Sumac married Moises Vivanco, the leader of the Compania, in 1942. Four years later, Vivanco, Sumac, and her cousin Colita Rivero formed the Inca Taqui Trio and moved to New York. By the end of the decade, they were performing in nightclubs throughout New York and playing radio and television programs, most notably Arthur Godfrey's TV show. The Trio also became a fixture on the Borscht Belt circuit and the Catskills.

Sumac was signed as a solo artist to Capitol Records in 1950, releasing her first album, the 10" Voice of the Xtabay, the same year. Voice of the Xtabay was released without much publicity, but it slowly became a hit and Capitol began pushing Sumac with a massive marketing campaign.