Yma Sumac

A legend of exotica, the niche sub-genre popular in the 1950s, Yma Sumac has a vocal range that must be heard to be believed. 


  • Voice of the Xtabay (1950), A-
    • The voice of Yma Sumac is one of the most impressive musical instruments of all time, something that truly must be heard to be believed. Because of my general unfamiliarity with the culture, Sumac is as Peruvian as my palate gets. Even though the backing orchestration is Hollywood’s idea of South America, Sumac’s Incan inclinations transcend the cheesy fanfare. Her voice is ancient and timeless, and the song “Ataypura” is featured in The Big Lebowski, which is even more timeless. A winning combination.
  • Legend of the Sun Virgin (1952), B+
    • Another Peruvian-Incan-Hollywood mash-up from the queen of exotica. However, once you’ve heard one Sumac, in a sense you’ve heard them all. And you know what they say about sun virgins: they’re only legends.
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