LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Legendary soprano Yma Sumac, the "Peruvian Songbird who dazzled music lovers in the 1950s and 60s with her incredible range, died at an assisted living facility in Los Angeles, her website said Monday. She was 86.
"It is with deep sadness, that we report that Yma Sumac passed away at 11 am on Saturday November 1st. It was peaceful. Those closest to her were at her side," said a website statement.
The Los Angeles Times said Sumac, who had been living in Los Angeles for the past 60 years, died of cancer.
Sumac was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo, in Peru, but rose to fame through her golden vocals in the Hollywood of the 1950s, where she took the name of Yma Sumac, or "how pretty" in Inca's Quechua language.
The Peruvian Songbird, as she became known, traveled across Europe and Japan presenting herself as an Inca priestess and astounding audiences with her five-octave range.
She acted with Charlton Heston in the 1953 film "The Secret of the Inca," and cut numerous records with her unique style combining folk music, jazz, salsa and even rock 'n' roll that made her both famous and critically acclaimed.
"Yma Sumac has a voice totally out of the ordinary," said Lyrical Association of Peru president Enrique Bernales.
He told Lima's radio RPP she had a range of five-octaves, "the only known voice in the 20th century capable of such a wonder ... she was never out of tune, with all the notes precise in tone and register."
"She is the only Peruvian whose name is written in Hollywood's Walk of Fame," another Lima radio station said Monday, remembering Sumac.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said it would place flowers on the Peruvian Songbird's star in the fabled sidewalk, and called on all her fans to do likewise.
Her website said that Sumac will have a private funeral and be buried at a Hollywood cemetery.
When asked recently how she would like to be remembered, Sumac said: "That I made good music and brought happiness to people's hearts."
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