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Yma Sumac RIP
November 2, 2008 7:57 PM   Subscribe

She was the voice of exotica. Rumored to be a Brooklyn housewife named Amy Camus, she was, in fact, native Peruvian with a voice of three octaves, Yma Sumac's singing graced the exotic easy listening albums of Les Baxter and Billy May. Yma Sumac died today at age 86. (Via)

La Castafiore Inca, a French documentary about the singer (only part one seems to be available.)

Gopher Mambo.
Pachamama.
Chuncho.
La pampa y la puna.
Bo Mambo.
Goomba Goomba.
Wimoweh.
Jungla.
Calls of the Andes.
posted by Astro Zombie (44 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously, alas.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:58 PM on November 2, 2008


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I remember listening to her on my parent's old 78. She really was exotic, especially to a young boy from South Dakota.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:00 PM on November 2, 2008


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posted by AwkwardPause at 8:12 PM on November 2, 2008


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posted by the dief at 8:19 PM on November 2, 2008


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posted by Wolof at 8:25 PM on November 2, 2008


And I was just posting about the 1,001 things you should do before you die. Sure, visiting Machu Picchu should be one of them, but for us working people, becoming acquainted with Yma Sumac's unusual oeuvre might be more realistic..

YouTube helps.

R.I.P., Yma.
posted by kozad at 8:26 PM on November 2, 2008


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"La Castafiore Inca"? A twofer Tintin reference? Impressive.
posted by mwhybark at 8:28 PM on November 2, 2008


It made me very happy in the last few months to read the notes posted on her site by her assistant about how happy and peaceful she was in hospice care. I'll always regret not sending her the letter I always meant to.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 8:33 PM on November 2, 2008


I have one of her albums somewhere; I bought it as a novelty but ended up really enjoying it for its exuberance.

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posted by jokeefe at 8:36 PM on November 2, 2008


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:38 PM on November 2, 2008


ouch this one hurts

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posted by humannaire at 8:41 PM on November 2, 2008


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I just got back from the Day of the Dead procession in San Francisco. If I'd known about this, I would have blasted her music the whole way.
posted by treepour at 8:46 PM on November 2, 2008


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posted by cookie-k at 8:51 PM on November 2, 2008


She will live on in recordings - and crossword puzzles.
posted by Cranberry at 8:53 PM on November 2, 2008


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posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:21 PM on November 2, 2008


Bless you, dear. If there's a god, he is hugging you tightly and then asking you to sing at least three albums worth of material while he lights some torches before the barbeque.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:52 PM on November 2, 2008


P.I.R.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:02 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


A perfect opportunity for this question - I have a dance track that sounds like it samples Yma Sumac heavily. The MP3 is unlabeled in any way, but I would have acquired it about 5 years ago. (Apart from the date, the source is also uncertain.) It alternates a thudding drum and bass with Sumac singing and someone shouting "move!".

Sound familiar? Any ideas who this could be?
posted by outlier at 1:09 AM on November 3, 2008


Aw man!

It's Voice of the Xtabay all day then.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:26 AM on November 3, 2008


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And of course she was immortalised in the lyrics to 'Joe le taxi'.
posted by Mocata at 2:56 AM on November 3, 2008


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posted by lapolla at 2:56 AM on November 3, 2008


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>And of course she was immortalised in the lyrics to 'Joe le taxi'.

Thanks Mocata: I never noticed that.
posted by rongorongo at 3:16 AM on November 3, 2008


Respect.

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posted by asok at 3:30 AM on November 3, 2008


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My mom, herself a Peruvian, used to repeat all of the legends and myths and stories of her to me. She knew that Sumac had become a bit of an exotic caricature, but there was still pride in her success.

Maybe I'll make ceviche tonight, in her honor.
posted by LMGM at 4:05 AM on November 3, 2008


JIVARO!
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posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:48 AM on November 3, 2008


The only person my voice teacher, Jack Jones, ever specifically mentioned to me was Sumac. I remember finding an album and listening, and wondering if there were notes I was missing because I wasn't a bat.

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posted by dragonsi55 at 4:51 AM on November 3, 2008


My first exposure to her was the "Stay Awake" album of Disney covers, where she performed "I Wonder" from Sleeping Beauty. My original listening to it made me wonder what the hell was going on.

It took me almost ten years to understand how utterly amazing it was.
posted by mephron at 5:09 AM on November 3, 2008


nooooooooo....... I loved her voice - I had one of her albums when I was a child (I still have it, I think)

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posted by seawallrunner at 5:10 AM on November 3, 2008


The LA Times article suggests that Sumac stopped performing in the late '90s. In fact, she performed as recently as '05 at the Hukilau Festival in Florida (I nearly went).
posted by octobersurprise at 5:33 AM on November 3, 2008


The LA Times article suggests that Sumac stopped performing in the late '90s. In fact, she performed as recently as '05 at the Hukilau Festival in Florida (I nearly went).

We were just talking about her this weekend at a Dia de los Muertos party. A number of my friends met her and performed with her there. I was stuck in Korea and unable to attend.

Will be listening to all her records tonight. :(
posted by Brittanie at 7:00 AM on November 3, 2008


Arrg syntax. Friends met her at Hukilau, not the Dia de los Muertos party this weekend.
posted by Brittanie at 7:01 AM on November 3, 2008


Can't stay away from the Xtabay -- she had a truly phenomenal voice. If you haven't seen Charlton Heston's pre-Indiana Jones movie, Secret of the Incas (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047464/), then you've missed an on-screen performance by Yma Sumac, as well as an exciting and exotic thriller.

If there is a heaven and she is in it, the choir just got better.

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posted by Seabird at 7:16 AM on November 3, 2008


I was listening to xtabay yesterday while I was cleaning out my car, and thinking of my reclusive, odd-ball uncle, who introduced me to her recordings.
posted by boo_radley at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2008


Oddly enough, I had never heard of her, until I ran across this sketch with Anne Bancroft just last week: "Yma Dream," by Thomas Meehan. 'I had this dream I was giving a cocktail party for Yma Sumac, the Peruvian singer...'
posted by steef at 8:06 AM on November 3, 2008


Wow. I saw her at Hollywood Forever Cemetary's Day of the Dead Ceremony in 2005
posted by jfrancis at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2008


Jivaro was my first listen after I spotted the vinyl in an old disorded record store. I was hooked on the first listen.
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posted by hellbient at 9:24 AM on November 3, 2008


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God, I love her crazy sound. :) Thanks for being the peruvian princess Yma.
posted by dabitch at 10:07 AM on November 3, 2008


One of her albums was left behind in our basement by the previous owners of our house! Tonight, I shall dig it out and take a listen. Thanks!
posted by jeanmari at 10:18 AM on November 3, 2008


In 1987 I won a couple of tickets from KALX to see Yma Sumac in San Francisco. I couldn't get any of my friends or co-workers to go with me (fools!), so I went alone. It was great.

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posted by moonmilk at 10:27 AM on November 3, 2008


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posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:59 AM on November 3, 2008


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I'll have to pick up some limes on the way home from work so I can toast her memory with a Mai Tai.
posted by dnash at 12:14 PM on November 3, 2008


:(
posted by deusdiabolus at 3:03 PM on November 3, 2008


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posted by jtron at 4:28 PM on November 3, 2008


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posted by shoepal at 9:44 PM on November 4, 2008


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