Yma Sumac Dies

Yma Sumac, 86, a Peruvian-born soprano known for her vocal range and modern take on South American folk music, died of colon cancer Nov. 1 at an assisted-living home in Los Angeles.

Born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo, fans called her the “Peruvian Songbird” and the “Nightingale of the Andes” for her combination of a voice that spanned three octaves and her flamboyant outfits, a nod to her Andean roots.

Her first album for Capitol, 1950’s Voice of the Xtabay, sold half a million copies. She went on to make appearances in the 1951 Sammy Fain Broadway musical “Flahooley” and in the films “Secret of the Incas” in 1954 and “Omar Khayyam” in 1957.

Although Sumac’s fame faded in the 1960s, she earned a cult following with alternative and lounge music fans in the 1990s as her music graced the soundtracks of movies including “The Big Lebowski.”