Talk:Yma Sumac

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Birth year[edit]

An anoymous contributor recently changed the birth year from "1922?" to a confident 1927. I believe that this is a matter of no small controversy. I'd like to see some citations on birth year. - Jmabel | Talk 07:20, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Yma Sumac was in fact born in 1922, in Ichocan, Peru. Damon Devine, her caretaker in her final years, who has seen her actual birth certificate, attests to these facts here: Jhaleyesq (talk) 20:12, 18 June 2015 (UTC)John Haley--jhaleyesq


There is no recorded evidence that Yma Sumac sings more than a whole tone outside of four octaves. A four-octave range is EXCEPTIONAL, and I wish we could start crediting her with this range instead of categorizing her range as this "somewhere between four and five octaves, depending on whether or not we count the last note as another octave" BS.

As cited, she hits her highest recorded note, the fourth C# above middle C, in "Chuncho." Conveniently, she hits the second B below middle C in the same song, cementing her range at just over four octaves. This low note is a bit breathy, but you can hear a clearer example of her chest register in "Incacho," the track just before, where she hits the first C# below middle C, exactly four octaves below the high note in "Chuncho."

This really could not be any more clear-cut. Five C#'s make four octaves. The end of the ruler barely going past 12" does not add another whole foot. Let's put this to rest, please. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Skotoseme (talkcontribs) 31 March 31 2006.

Then it begs the question; what about five-octave singers? Wiki credits Dame Julie Andrews with a five-octave voice and I don't recall Julie's voice reaching the heights that Either Ms Sumac or Maria Carey do, I am confused. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15 June 2006.

Definitely sounds fishy. I remember reading somewhere in print that Ms. Andrews had four octaves: the four C's she could hit equaled a four octave range, nevermind that four C's is actually just three octaves. These things get written by people with no real musical background and just stick. Remember Mariah Carey's published "seven octaves"? As deep as the lowest Russian concert bass and then stretching all the way up to an octave above the piano's range. Completely fabricated. Getting back to Yma, I think the three octave thing currently cited on the article is fair. The tessitura of most her songs only rarely lies more than a note or two outside of three octaves. Skotoseme | Talk

In "Chuncho", Yma uses a range from E2 to C#7, which is nearly 5 octaves. Yma has insisted her range is B1 to A6. At least one website states she can go as high as E7. Other singers who claim to have 5 octaves who genuinely have that range are Yma,Georgia Brown, Adam Lopez, Mariah and possibly Minnie Riperton! 28th June 2007 <fossils12>

Assuming this is correct which I don't know, I just want to add, if she hits certain notes in pieces recorded, that does not mean it's her true range maximum and minimum. People don't sing to the limits of their range and often times have a buffer. So I believe in at least listing of 5 octaves.Yialanliu (talk) 03:23, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
The song "Chuncho" really contains her highest and lowest notes, from B2 to C♯7 (approximately 123 to 2270 Hz). Four octaves would have been from 123 Herz to 1968 Hz -- the additional step from 1968 to 2270 is only another whole step higher, from B6 to C♯7. The lowest sounds are guttural noises, akin to pedal tones in brass. The highest sounds are in the whistle register. I'm an audio engineer and I've measured the song on a spectrum analyzer accurate to one half of a half step in the equal temper scale (1/24th of an octave). This extraordinary performance range by Sumac was probably done on purpose for show, to be as extreme as possible, holding nothing back as a "buffer". Anyway, in Chuncho, we can say her range is four octaves plus two half steps, or four octaves plus a whole step. Binksternet (talk) 18:03, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
Could someone explain why Yma is listed as four octaves whereas she has the same range as five octave listed singers like Minnie Riperton and Mariah Carey? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:51, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

The above statement about no recorded evidence of a larger range for Yma Sumac is inaccurate. I have restored a number of live recordings of Yma Sumac, which are sold on In the live track "Chuncho" on "Yma Sumac: The Voice" (see, Sumac sings from low B, below the C below Middle C, up to F# above Double High C (in the top octave of the piano keyboard), which she sustains for about three seconds. On other live recordings, the low B is firmly projected (for the record, there is no low E below this B to be heard in any surviving "Chuncho" recording). This F# up top is a fourth above her highest recorded note on commercial records, which is the C# above Double High C (in her Capitol "Chuncho" recording). From the low B to this F# is a range of a little more than four and a half octaves--all of which can be heard in the same live recording. Sumac herself claimed in an interview that she sang lower than the low B (I have heard no recording of this), which if true would make her range close to five octaves. She was probably being truthful in claiming a five octave range, although this was undoubtedly not something she did every day. Please see the discussion in my article about Sumac's live recordings cited in the text at footnote 8. Jhaleyesq (talk) 20:59, 18 June 2015 (UTC)John Haley--jhaleyesq

And again[edit]

This edit: bizarre. So as not to stir up controversy, you are changing this to an imprecise statement with a vague citation made only in the edit summary? - Jmabel | Talk 19:40, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

"octaves" Link[edit]

In the first paragraph, the word, "octaves," links to a male singing group rather than the musical term. I have no idea how to change this, so this message is to alert someone who does. Thanks.

Fixed. Binksternet (talk) 19:15, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

yet again...[edit]

I've heard many of her recordings, and she does not have the singing range claimed, any more than an audio oscillator is a singer. WilliamSommerwerck (talk) 17:38, 15 September 2016 (UTC)

Birthplace/Name Hoax[edit]

References or more information is sorely needed regarding the "hoax" that she is Amy Camus from Brooklyn or Canada. I suggest removing that line or changing it from hoax to rumor. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Xee (talkcontribs) 18 April 2006.

For those who are familiar with the quechua, this is very simple Yma Sumac means pretty flower, a lot of peruvian singers use a stage name in quechua. So there is no reason to believe that she is Amy Camus

I think I understand what you are saying, but I'm not sure. Are you saying that we should not call it a "hoax" unless there is a clear perpetrator? Or are you saying something else? Because, clearly, she is Peruvian. - Jmabel | Talk 17:45, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
IMDB may not be an authoritative source, but they claim the following: "An urban legend that she is really "Amy Camus," a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, originated in 1951 with a joke amoungst musicians repeated in one of Walter Winchell's gossip columns." Burschik 06:53, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
This is also the version given at her homepage. And see also this alleged letter. Burschik 07:04, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

According to my sources, "Yma Sumac" means "Que lindo!" or "How beautiful!" In current Quechua orthography in Peru, this would be "Ima Sumac." "Pretty flower" would be "sumac t'kika". Cuhihuamán, Diccionario Quechua Cuzco-Collao, 2001, p. 47, 103, 170. Interlingua 14:55, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

The point is that the citation for "hoax" is simply Yma Sumac's homepage, and thus a poor citation. Either improve it or remove it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 19 September 2006.

I'm sorry, I'm still not following this. Can you indicate what you think this should say? I can't tell at all how much of this you think should be removed. Certainly the rumor existed. Certainly it was false. Is your problem just with the word "hoax", or what? - Jmabel | Talk 06:28, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

There is apparently a 1992 German documentary Yma Sumac: Hollywood's Inca Princess that gets into this matter, if anyone cares to track it down. I gather that it also would be a good source for more biographical detail on her career. - Jmabel | Talk 06:31, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

The German documentary is not authoritative at all. Not well researched or presented. Please see my extended article about Sumac, cited at footnote 8 in the text, which discusses this documentary. Jhaleyesq (talk) 21:04, 18 June 2015 (UTC)John Haley --jhaleyesq

Memory's not too good here, but in the 1970s a series of books titled "The People's Almanac" (and TPA 2 and 3) had an article about her, which is where I first heard of her. Not sure which volume it was in - probably v1 - but they did mention the hoax; if I'm recalling correctly, it was not put forth as "a hoax" because there wasn't too much data available about her real life, just news tidbits. If I hadn't given my print copy of TPA away last year I'd look it up! (talk) 05:11, 12 December 2016 (UTC)


What is the basis for writing her name in an English-language encyclopedia as "Yma Súmac" rather than "Yma Sumac"? Isn't it almost universally written without the accent in the English-speaking world? -- Jmabel | Talk 00:49, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Presumably to notate how it should be pronounced, user:CieloEstrellado seems spanish, where accents are used to signify the stress eg. débil = weak. "Súmac" sounds like "SOO-mac" whilst "Sumác" sounds like "Su-maac" or "Su-mark". Otherwise the name is not spanish and not noted with accent anywhere on her site or on CD releases. Be bold and go ahead with the change. Sillyfolkboy (talk) 05:21, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Providing vocals for Disney's "Sleeping Beauty"[edit]

I believe this is a mistake, caused by her 1988 contribution to the Disney Cover album "Stay Awake", doing a good (but not better) covering of Mary Costa's 1958 Princess Aurora vocals for the original animated film. (John Stubberud, Oslo, Norway)

Sound right. I'll corret. - Jmabel | Talk 17:06, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
Looks like someone beat me to it, even thought to mention Hal Willner (Bravo!). - Jmabel | Talk 17:07, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

"Inca princess?"[edit]

Okay, you've convinced me that Amy Camus and Yma Sumac are two different people, and that the latter really is of Peruvian, possibly indigenous Peruvian, origin.

What about the assertion that she's Inca royalty? True or false? If false, how did this idea get started? Can anyone help me here? Tom129.93.17.225 01:25, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Her name means "semi divine empress" but the Golden Age of Hollywood had a "princess" of this, a "princess" of that. She's Hollywood's Inca Princess, Hollywood "royalty" it's a marketing term, not an indication of sovereignty. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:27, 4 November 2008 (UTC)


13th september 1922, on her official site The webmaster has claimed he has seen her birth certificate —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:52, 8 February 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:50, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Requested move: Yma Súmac → Yma Sumac[edit]

The accent is superfluous. Almost all sources give her name as "Yma Sumac", without the accent. See e.g. p. 63, Widening the Horizon: Exoticism in Post-war Popular Music, ed. Philip Hayward, Indiana University Press, 1999, ISBN 1864620471; "Daughter of the Sun God", Time, August 28, 1950; album covers at [1], [2]; etc. Editors are invited to comment in this section. Spacepotato (talk) 22:41, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Agree... On July 1, I wrote to the person who originally moved the article to its current version (with the accent) but there's been no response. I think we're clear to move it. Binksternet (talk) 17:25, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
Support move based on google hits, and based on album covers. DigitalC (talk) 06:27, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Support - Please move now. Badagnani (talk) 11:25, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Support Haven't we been here before? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:55, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

<--de-indent... Say, folks, the deed is done. We're already here on the new name (the one with no accent.) Thank you, Anthony Appleyard. Binksternet (talk) 23:02, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

categories Operatic sopranos, mezzo-sopranos and contraltos[edit]

Although her voice was operatic, Sumac was not employed as an opera singer. Should the categories Operatic sopranos, Operatic mezzo-sopranos and Operatic contraltos be removed from this article? — Robert Greer (talk) 01:16, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

That sounds reasonable. Binksternet (talk) 01:46, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, it's done. — Robert Greer (talk) 04:02, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

There is no good reason not to refer to Sumac as a contralto, which is indisputably correct, despite her extended upper range. Her small batch of commercial recordings do not really represent her performing career that well, and one must listen to her live recordings to correctly assess her voice and her art. She did in fact sing operatic and other classical music on her concerts. As discussed at length in my in-depth article cited at footnote 8 in the text, Sumac's mature voice was definitely a true contralto, in the classical sense. Please see my article. Jhaleyesq (talk) 21:23, 18 June 2015 (UTC)John Haley --jhaleyesq

Edits of this date[edit]

The "inline" article tag was changed to be "BLP sources," because issue is lack of sources (there is no bibliography whose entries are not cited inline), and because of this, paragraph after paragraph of plagiarised text, on many major sections. Le Prof (talk) 16:53, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Can you please point out an example of plagiarised text? --NeilN talk to me 16:58, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Living persons[edit]

The template, “This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification...” should be removed. She died more than 7 years ago. However, if the article needs citations, the usual citation template should be retained.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 17:24, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Adjusted. --NeilN talk to me 17:28, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
Thank you.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 20:59, 13 September 2016 (UTC)