Today Google is honoring Peruvian singer Yma Sumac’s birthday with her very own doodle.
On September 13, 1922, “The Peruvian Songbird” was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo. She chose the stage name “Yma Sumac” to honor her mother. The name, in her native language Quechua, means, “how beautiful.”
Yma started her singing career in Peru, but quickly moved to the United States, where she was signed by Capitol Records. Her first U.S. album, “Voice of the Xtabay,” was released to critical acclaim in 1950.
CREDIT: CAUE BRITO / YOUTUBE
The liner notes for the album claim an xtabay is, “the most elusive of all women” and a “virgin who might have consumed your nights with tender caresses now seems less than the dry leaves of winter.” In the Mayan language, an xtabay is a demon seductress who kills for lust. Living up to its name, “Xtabay” won over fans and critics, who were seduced by Yma’s impressive five-octave vocal range.
Yma followed up the success of the album’s release by performing at the Hollywood Bowl and releasing several other critically acclaimed albums.
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CREDIT: SEANP8302 / INSTAGRAM
No matter how popular she became, Yma stayed close to her roots. Thanks to the extravagant displays of South American costumes, fans often compared her to Inca Royalty.
Yma was not afraid to play up this comparison, and Peru’s government even confirmed that she was descended from the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa.