Born in Peru in 1922, Yma Sumac was one of those rare performers who could sing five octave ranges effortlessly. Few, if any singers have been able to capture both the lower ranges and the higher ranges of notes up to the fifth octave.
She was said to have been a descendant of Incan kings from her mother's family lineage. At an early age, Sumac stood atop the Andes and sang folklore songs with Peruvian themes. Before long, her voice and smiling persona would involve the audience in a panorama of jungle sounds.
She could ascend and descend the music scale with no choppiness or lack of clarity in the presentation. In addition, Sumac could hold high notes as well as low notes for long periods. Sumac has an official website organized by news, photos, music, biography, shopping, an interview and fan art. In the interview section, Sumac was asked a question about whether or not she had formal training. "No dahling. I just sing and what comes out is what you hear, Sumac said.
In the Peruvian songs "Virgin of the Sun God", "Taki Rari," and "The Forest Creature", Sumac reaches those high octaves with great clarity, no cracks in her voice, in uniform beats, well-defined staccato, rising crescendo, and all the trappings of a dynamic soprano. In "Tumpa" (meaning "Earthquake" in English), Sumac begins in the lower ranges and sings a huge range of notes midway into the piece. Her presentation is clear, forceful and expressive. These songs can be heard on her website.
"Virgin of the Sun God" is one of Sumac's best songs for demonstrating her tremendous vocal range and projection over the sounds of the orchestra. The presentation opens with an opera gong which identifies Sumac's dramatic and consequential grand entrance. She sings with the authority of a dynamic soprano while effortlessly raising her voice to the heavens.