Malambo No. 1
Updated 1/6/02 to correct 6-octave range to 4-to-5-octave range. (Though I know I read 6 somewhere!)
When I was a young girl many, many years ago, there were lots of names of people and concepts and things I couldn't get adults to define or explain to me.
When mom said, "
Look it up in the encyclopedia," and I couldn't find an answer, I realized I had to wait until I wasn't dependent on the adults around me for information.
Needless to say, many of these childish points of interest dissolved into mind dust.
Yma Sumac was a name that settled among that mind dust, and, about six years ago while perusing the lounge/exotica/easy listening section in a media superstore, I came across Yma Sumac's Mambo CD.
I think her name stuck with me, because I found it interesting, and this CD of hers looked like it might be interesting, so I purchased it.
My virgin listening of it bordered on annoyance.
I had expected lively Latin vocals, but got, instead, lively jungle animal vocals.
Sometimes Yma would sing in a forced deep voice (what's the opposite of falsetto?) on up to a high C four or five octaves away, and sometimes she was doing her own peculiar Latin scat, complete with assorted canine sounds.
One minute she was Florence Henderson and the next minute she was James Brown.
No, James Brown's Doberman.
I was baffled and nearly didn't complete listening to the whole CD.
Time passed and I decided to play it again.
Knowing what to expect this time, I kinda got into it.
On a third playing, I was hooked and was listening to it all the time in the office as I worked.
The appeal was partly the lively material and bouncy arrangements, but I have to admit it was mostly the bizarreness--I mean, uniqueness--of Yma's stylings and her shameless vocal masterbation that I most enjoyed.
From the web, I learned that Yma's life was just as interesting as her music.
She had become the darling of the pop music intelligentsia during the early 50s, replete with a controversial background.
Was she a bona fide Incan princess or a gal named Amy Camus from Brooklyn?
Either way, there was no denying her powerful vocal gyrations, incredible range, and exotic look, and she established an avant garde US fan base.
Although I "spread the word about Yma" after first discovering her, I failed to meet anyone who had heard of her.
And then a couple of years after purchasing Mambo, I watched the movie Wigstock and was pleased to see a drag queen lip-syncing one of the songs from this CD.
After seeing that, my judgment about Yma was validated.
If a drag queen loves Yma, I knew I was on to something really, really hot!Lyrics powered by musiXmatch.com