A star was born on Sept. 13, 1922: Yma Sumac, whose vocal range astounded music lovers the world over. Google marked what would have been the singer’s 94th birthday Tuesday with a new doodle in her honor.
Born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo, Yma grew up in the mountains of Peru, where she would sing to her surroundings and pretend she was performing for an audience. She got her big break as a teenager when she was invited to sing on an Argentine radio station. Listeners were immediately floored by her incredible vocal range; she was known to hit at least five octaves.
Yma moved to the U.S. in 1946, where she was quickly signed by Capital Records. She reached the prime of her career in the 1950s, when she graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, London’s Royal Albert Hall and other elite venues.
During this time she was known for wearing striking, flamboyant costumes and ornate jewelry, likening her to the Incan royalty from which she is sometimes said to have been a descendant.
Yma Sumac passed away in 2008 in Los Angeles, California, but her voice will long be remembered.