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Yma Sumac: The Art Behind the Legend

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0979097294
ISBN-10: 0979097290
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: YBK Publishers, Inc. (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979097290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979097294
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,201,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Don Pierson on April 28, 2008
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There have been countless stories published about Yma Sumac since she first burst upon the scene in the 1940s but nearly all have been filled with the hype and mistakes of her original marketing campaigns. However, Mr. Limansky has come up with this definitive tome after many years of extensive and thorough research that dispels most of the myths and provides the first true look at her life, music and vocal techniques.

Don Pierson, Yma Sumac Homepage and Archives - SunVirgin dot com
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Freeman Gunter on April 28, 2008
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"If anyone ever deserved the sobriquet "Legendary" it is Peruvian diva Yma Sumac. Her mysterious Andean background, ravishing beauty and thrilling voice of many octaves made her the absolute empress of the Exotica craze of the 1950s. Anyone seeking to understand her unique magic needs to look no further than this book. In a monumental undertaking of love, research, intuition, understanding and first-rate detective work, Nicholas Limansky has laid before the reader all the facts and all the fictions that continue to surround this remarkable artist. One of the singular careers in international show business is completely examined in a book so complete, thorough and well-written that it can only be called exhaustive. Limansky's deep knowledge of the technical and psychological components of singing - and his clear and incisive writing - enable him to explain the intricate details of her performances in a way that both reaches the experienced listener and is also completely comprehensible to the novice. In fact, to read his descriptions while listening to the referenced selection is to fast-forward one's total understanding of the mysteries of the singing voice. This is a remarkeable achievement and Ms. Sumac is one fortunate diva, indeed, to have such a sympathetic and accurate champion. Bravo!"

Freeman Gunter (former editor of Michael's Thing, Mandate, Soap Opera Weekly, and Classical Singer Magazines)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tyler Alpern on May 2, 2008
Nick Limansky's wonderful biography of Yma Sumac is finally available and I really enjoyed it. Begun in 1980, it is full of fascinating interviews with musicians and key players who have not been around for years. It is brimming with great pictures. It is of course a biography and documents her whole career and its backstory, but Limansky also documents the Yma of pop culture: Thomas Meehan's wonderful Yma Dream,5 years of the wild YmaRama festivals in Santa Cruz, etc. Yma had such a unique place in between a few music genres and in so many ways what made her famous also destroyed her credibility as a serious artist and talent. After 27 years of collecting info and writing, it all could not be contained in the book so there is an additional CD-ROM available that contains 120 more pages, 140 more photos and better reproductions of all the photos included in the book. On the CD, Linmansky gives a track by track critical discussion of all of Yma's recordings. Because the book is written by a singer, it adds a perspective and understanding of her talent and craft that makes it a particularly good read for a non-singer, but a fan like me. Did I mention the glorious cover?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Byrne on September 13, 2010
This detailed and heavily researched biography on the 1950's singing sensation Yma Sumac could do with a reprint. In his foreward author Nicholas Limansky admits that a truly satisfying biography of Yma Sumac can never be written, for the simple reason that the great Diva would never co-operate with any biographer, and would never write an autobiography. The Peruvian Songbird died a few months after the book was published, and a controversial new documentary is soon to be released, so Limansky could possibly add another chapter if there is a reprint.

I'm writing this on September 13, which is now the official date of her birthday, this being confirmed by her webmaster, carer and companion Damon Devine, who has seen her birth certificate. Unfortunately for Limansky this information became known just after his book was published, so this book seriously needs an updated reprint.

"Yma Sumac: The Art Behind the Legend" took years to write and the amount of research that went into it is exhaustive, and very impressive, to say the least. I have a couple of slight quibbles though. Limansky quotes Dorothy Hopper, wife of the director of SECRET OF THE INCAS, who says that Yma Sumac went on location to Peru in 1953, and that she "surprisingly did not talk to the Peruvians". Its a well known fact that Sumac's scenes in this movie were filmed on a Paramount studio set, and Madam Sumac actually confirmed this to me in a 2005 letter. Also, Limansky completely ignores mentioning in any detail her disastrous tour of Great Britain in 1954 - which was a complete fiasco from what I have read in newspapers of the time. Her concerts were sparsly attended and there was constant rows about money.

But don't let these very minor details stop you purchasing this book, its a terrific read and a fabulously enlightening account of one of the great mysteries of 1950's pop culture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan Dean Foster on November 17, 2010
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As she was often wont to say herself, there were many opera singers, but there was only one Yma Sumac. The trouble being, nobody knew who she was. Including, after many years, Ms. Sumac herself. Like other artists who deliberately wrapped themselves in mystery and enigma the better to heighten their appeal to the public, she came (one might almost say was forced) to believe much of the myth that was spun around her. At the height of her fame, in the 1950's, the public was happy to lap it all up. In the twilight of her career, such tall tales would come to haunt her reputation as a singer, if not as a performer.

Nicholas Limansky has managed the difficult job of writing a detailed and exhaustive biography of someone who declined to cooperate in the telling of her own life story. That it reads as if Ms. Sumac, or at least her amaneuensis, is sitting by his side providing the necessary details is a credit to someone for whom such a project is plainly far more than an academic exercise. A professional singer himself, Limansky supplies the kind of insight into Sumac's unique vocal abilities that a non-musician would have had to hire outside help to explain. Clear and concise, his writing flows effortlessly from chapter to chapter, knitting together often obscure and sparse material. It is an altogether admirable piece of work.

The book is replete with the kind of detail that comes from years and not months of research. A supplementary CD contains much additional written and photographic material. Leaving it out of the printed edition was clearly a financial decision, as those involved were probably unsure of the book's reception and including such items as color photos would have driven up the project's costs.
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