"Ah, What a Beauty" - the story of Ima Sumac, performer of "Hymn to the Sun"

"She never went out of character. Even in life she remained an exotic princess..."

In the footsteps of Ima Sumac: an exotic legend from Peru whose career was a Hollywood one

Ima Sumac - one of the most beautiful, exotic and brilliant singers of the 20th century. Not for nothing did her pseudonym translate as "Oh, what a beauty!". And some critics have identified Ima with "Peruvian bird.": Being a native of PeruThe woman had a voice with a unique range of almost five octaves! Sumac sounded magical and looked mysterious - that's why she was loved almost all over the world. By the way: there is a legend that the performer was a direct descendant of Atahualpa - the last emperor of the Incas.

During her career, Ima sold Tens of millions of records around the world and has become "a Hollywood legend."It was in Los Angeles that her exotic Peruvian image was born, which at first they actively tried to "reshape. As biographer Nicholas E. Limansky:

"Hollywood took this pretty girl who wanted to be a folk-song singer, dressed her up and gave her the title of princess."

Imitation Birds

Ima Sumac
Ima Sumac

Ima's childhood was spent on her parents' ranch near the Cajamarca Mountains in northern Peru, where the future icon was born. September 10, 1922. The girl never received a musical education, but learned to sing on her own, and in a very unconventional way: she imitated the birds! In many ways, this explains her unusual exotic style, which critics sometimes describe as "beyond human capabilities.".

Sumac has learned to masterfully manipulate her voice - expertly moving from incredibly low to cosmically high tones! This ability is particularly well demonstrated by the so-called "Hymn to the Sun." ("Virgin Of The Sun God"), which was much beloved in the USSR.

The young singer captivated local gawkers, and in the 1940s she went on to conquer the America.

Unyielding to Hollywood standards

Ima Sumac
Ima Sumac

In 1946, Ima and her husband By Moises Vivanco (with whom she divorced and got back together twice) have settled in New York. At first the couple and a cousin of Ima named Cholita Rivero performed as a trio, but that project was not very successful. At the end of the decade Sumac learned the delights of motherhood, but the woman was not going to abandon the dream of becoming a singer. Already in the early 50's her record is released "Voice of the Xtabay"which sold 100,000 copies and brought the "Peruvian bird" her first fame.

Ima's sound was indeed reminiscent of exotic birdsong. Coupled with the extravagant image and perky character, the young singer attracted attention in an instant. Her strong-willed temperament set Ima apart from a number of other singers of those years: managers literally demanded that Sumac dress according to "Hollywood standards."But she did not care about these standards. The woman built her dazzling image as a Peruvian princess, which she not only popularized in the world and in Los Angeles in particular, but also made a cult one.

"She paced the stage as if she had arrived to reclaim her empire, she demanded the unconditional attention of the audience," critics wrote.

Ima Sumac
Ima Sumac

Gradually Ima won the love of the world public. She performed in the best music halls of the world, and very often the audience watched her with their mouths wide open... Sumac also visited in the USSR: it is known that at the personal direction of Nikita Khrushchev the singer received royalties for her concerts in convertible currency during all six months of her tour in the Soviet Union!

Fading and Return to Popularity

Ima Sumac
Ima Sumac

At the turn of the '60s and '70s the popularity of the singer noticeably fadedIt was not until the late 1980s and early 1990s that it was possible to bring it back. A large role in this was played by movieswhich included Ima's songs. By the way: back in the early '60s Sumac's cosmic voice was heard in a Soviet movie "Planet of Storms."and earlier, in 1954, the singer herself made her film debut! She played Cory-Tiki in the adventure film The Mystery of the Incas.

There were concerts, recordings, including the album "Yma Rocks!" (1998) with previously unreleased rock compositions of the 70s. But the former glory was gone - the peak of the "Peruvian princess" popularity came in the 50s-60s.

Care and Legacy

Ima Sumac
Ima Sumac

The legend passed away in 2008 at the age of 86 in a Los Angeles nursing home. Less than a year before the tragedy, the artist had been diagnosed with cancer. The audience remembered this exotic diva exactly as she burst onto the world stage: beautiful, divine, incredible...

"She never went out of character. Even in life she remained an exotic princess," stressed foreign journalists.

Over the years, as those close to her emphasize, the woman's character became even more impudent. But at heart she was extremely fragile. As her days drew to a close, Ima continued to perform, just the same, In Los AngelesThe city that gave her her name. It was here that her story ended...


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