WTM #1036: Miriam Makeba vs Yma Sumac

images-1wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies 
10 November 2008 // 17.00-19.00
Hello > Ella Jenkins [1]
La Castafiore Inca (Part I) > Yma Sumac [2]
Taity Inty > Yma Sumac
The Click Song 1966 > Miriam Makeba [3]
Chuncho > Yma Sumac
Khawuleza 1966 > Miriam Makeba
This Is Rhythm > Ella Jenkins
Masakhane [South Africa] > Miriam Makeba
Atapura > Yma Sumac
The Naughty Little Flea! > Miriam Makeba
Kuyaway > Yma Sumac
Gopher Mambo > Yma Sumac
Goomba Goomba (Lujan Ultramambo Mix) > Yma Sumac
Tighten Up Your Pants > Audio Murphy Inc. vs Melinda Schneider [4]
I Wonder (Sleeping Beauty) > Yma Sumac
Wimoweh > Yma Sumac
Chicken Talk > Yma Sumac
Calls of the Andes > Yma Sumac
La Pampa y La Puna > Yma Sumac
Pata Pata > Miriam Mekeba
Virgenes del Sol > Yma Sumac
Desasosiego > Fátima Miranda [5]
Annazone > Anna Maria Kieffer vs Leo Kupper [6]
La Castafiore Inca (Part I) > Yma Sumac
[1] Ella Jenkins was born a month before my father was in 1924. She is one of those classic Smithsonian/folkways  American folk singers. She was a gifted folk singer who focused on children and her songs are not belittling not patronizing for kids. Grew up a poor girl in St. Louis and Chicago and is basically a self-taught musician. Exposed at early age to the electric blues of T-Bone Walker, for instance. Also exposed to the obligatory gospel music. Combined child psychology with world folk musics and toured America playing schools. In 1956 she sent a demo tape to Folkways and in 1957 her record Call-And-Response: Rhythmic Group Singing, was released by Folkways. Since then, she has recorded 29 other albums for Folkways Records and appeared on many radio and television broadcasts even winning a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Her songs are decidedly multi-cross-cultural and promote the dignity of all peoples through song. She often sings call-&-response songs that are standard all over the world because it introduces the idea of participation of inclusiveness of an ‘interactive’ dialog in song.
[2] Peruvian songbird, “Peruvian Songbird” and “singing marvel” Yma Sumac’s full name is Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo [13 September 1922-1 Nov. 2008] is already eye-catching. But she was much greater than the sum of her parts, her myth, her stories, her image, her name. She became much larger than life. When she died in LA, she had already been a true part of our cultural consciousness like a ghost that haunts a house. One of the most annoying rumors [myths] was that her Peruvian story was a myth, a PR creation and that she was none other than simple Amy Camus from Brooklyn. The lack of veracity of this rumor never dampened its stubborn longevity and sometimes overshadowed the fact that she was probably one of the greatest vocalists this world has ever heard with a 5 octave range [purported or claimed] that seemed to be near the truth but it is what she did with this gift that made her amazing and bigger than real life to the point that she did become some aspect of her myth that she was some Peruvian goddess. This was all fueled by her exorbitant public image, her costumes, her repertoire that went from Martin Denny/Les Baxter exotica [which to me is a folk music of another world, a 4th world type of music]. She was much more and not quite a pop star. Not quite and thus much more than a classic soprano. Ethnomusicological and yet far from logical. Folksinger and yet more like an abstract vocalist who knows no nationalisms and passport. She gained her reputation as much from her music, her vocal range of more than four octaves from B2 to C♯7 (approximately 123 to 2270 Hz) – She was able to sing notes in the low baritone register as well as notes above the range of an ordinary soprano. Both low and high extremes can be heard in the song Chuncho (The Forest Creatures) (1950) – as from her look, her presentation, her elegant presumption, but also rumors, the many spinnings of her actual biography wth her birthdate ranging from 1921 to 1929. Her lineage ranging from Brooklyn to Ichocán or Lima,  Peru. Other stories claimed that she was a princess, directly descended from Incan emperor Atahualpa.
An early stage name was Imma Sumack (also Ymma Sumack and Ima Sumack) when she was still performing in South America. It is based on her mother’s name which was derived from Ima Shumaq, which means “how beautiful!” although in interviews she claimed it meant “beautiful flower” or “beautiful girl”.
Imma Sumack first appeared on radio in 1942 and married composer and bandleader, Moises Vivanco  on June 6 of the same year. She recorded at least twenty tracks of Peruvian folk songs in 1943. These early recordings for Odeon featured Moisés Vivanco’s group, Compañía Peruana de Arte, a group of forty-six Indian dancers, singers, and musicians.
In 1946, Sumack and Vivanco moved to New York City, where they performed as the Inca Taky Trio, Sumack singing soprano, Vivanco on guitar, and her cousin Cholita Rivero singing contralto and dancing. She signed to Capitol in 1950 and her stage name became Yma Sumac.
Her 1950s production featured the legendary exotica lounge music with people like Les Baxter and Billy May. She appeared in the films Secret of the Incas (1954) and Omar Khayyam (1957) and went on a notable world tour including behind the Iron Curtain in the USSR in 1961 as well as Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Yma Sumac recorded an extraordinarily wide vocal range of more than four octaves from B2 to C♯7 (approximately 123 to 2270 Hz). She was able to sing notes in the low baritone register as well as notes above the range of an ordinary soprano. Both low and high extremes can be heard in the song Chuncho (The Forest Creatures) (1950). Recorded a rock album in the 1971 Miracles (1971), and reissued as Yma Rocks! (1998) and performed I Wonder on Hal Willner’s Disney compilation on Stay Awake in 1988. In 1955, the Los Angeles Times observed: “She warbles like a bird in the uppermost regions, hoots like an owl in the lowest registers, produces bell-like coloratura passages one minute, and exotic, dusky contralto tones the next.” Devine, who runs the Yma Sumac website, notes that “She’s a very eccentric woman. . . . Her whole career and life is based on her mystery, and so the facts and fiction is a fine line with her.”
[3] Miriam Makeba, Singer, died at age 76 in early November 2008 She was a gifted, activist and entertaining South African singer who mixed jazz, pop and folk and projected hope, pride of self and culture and resistance through her voice, lyrics and activism. Her most popular songs were “Click Song” and “Pata Pata.” She was banned from SA for years by the apartheid authorities she struggled against and lived in exile for 31 years in the United States, France, Guinea and Belgium. Makeba collapsed just off stage, after giving a concert in support of Roberto Saviano, an author who has received death threats after writing about organized crime. She died of a heart attack at the private Pineta Grande clinic in Castel Volturno near Naples in southern Italy.
images-2She emblemized the struggle of black people under apartheid. Nelson Mandela said the death “of our beloved Miriam has saddened us and our nation. Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years. At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.” She was married to American black activist Stokely Carmichael, with whom she lived in Guinea, and the jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who also spent many years in exile. She became a star in the US, winning a Grammy with Harry Belafonte in the 1960s in 1965. She sang at JFK’s 1962 party. But she pissed off the U.S. music industry elite and many American consumers because of her marriage to Mr. Carmichael and her decision to live in Guinea and at some point noticed that her concerts in the United States were being cancelled. “It was not a ban from the government. It was a cancellation by people who felt I should not be with Stokely because he was a rebel to them. I didn’t care about that. He was somebody I loved, who loved me, and it was my life,” she said. According to Agence France-Presse, she was often short of money and could not afford to buy a coffin when her only daughter, Bondi, died aged 36 in 1985. She buried her alone, barring a handful of journalists from covering the funeral.
[4] Audio Murphy Inc. vs Melinda Schneider is a weird blend of glitzy post-disco dance and formidable yodeling. Melissa is the daughter of Mary Schneider, arguably the most famous and/or best living yodeler today.
[5] Fátima Miranda was born in Salamanca and lives in Madrid. She is a vocal link between the earthly and unearthly, between the physical and speculative worlds beyond reason. Miranda commands a four-octave register and in her gifts and accomplishments is sometimes compared to Meredith Monk or Diamanda Galas. She is a scholar writing on art and is a founding member of the improvisation group Taller de Música Mundana and Flatus Vocis Trío, which is exclusively dedicated to phonetic poetry. As noted on her website, she continues to do research “on the voice and vocal music in traditional musics and this has propelled her to use the voice not only for singing and speaking but also as a wind and percussion instrument built into the body. All of the above constitutes the basis for her own integrated musical language. In 1987-1988 she studied with the japanese singer Yumi Nara and she learnt mongol harmonic singing with Tran Quang Haï. In 1987 she commenced studies of North Indian Classical Music in Dhrupad style with various members of the eminent Dagar family. From 1983 to 1993 she studied bel canto with various professors in order to combine vocal techniques traditionnally considered incompatibles…. Fátima Miranda has collaborated with among others with Llorenç Barber, Robert Ashley, Wolf Vostell, Jean-Claude Eloy, Julio Estrada, Pedro Elías, Bertl Mutter, Rachid Koraichi, Jon Rose, Hans Peter Kuhn, Stéphane Abboud, Werner Durand, Mirella Weingarten and Sacha Waltz.”
[6] Ways of the Voice, Pogus, 1999. Kieffer communicates with the Amazonian rain forest and its bird population to amazing vocal leap and oral gymnastic effect.
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