Exotica Queen Yma Sumac Returns On New Compilation, Plans Tour

Lounge enthusiasts with an ear for the bizarre who find themselves with some extra cash after the holidays my want to keep an eye out for a new 21-track collection from exotica queen Yma Sumac.

The diva (whose five-octave range reached a new generation of fans on Capitol Records' recent "Ultra Lounge" series) will see the release of "The Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection" on January 11, and is also planning to tour in support of the album.

In addition to some of Sumac's best known (and most off-beat) tracks, the collection will also carry three previously unreleased tunes: "Negrito Filomino," "Huayno" and "Inca Waltz."

Sumac lore holds that the singer hails from Ichocan, Peru (high in the Andes mountains) and was brought to the U.S. by musicologist Moises Vivanco. While the singer claimed her given name was Ziola Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo and that she was a direct descendent of Incan emperor Athualpa, others maintain that Sumac is actually Brooklyn's

Amy Camus.

Regardless of this murky background (or perhaps because of it), Sumac hooked up with Capitol Records and turned her blend of traditional South American songs and cocktail sounds into a string of successful albums in the '50s. Sumac ranked with that era's giants of exotica like Les Baxter and Martin Denny, but slipped from favor after the '50s drew to a close.

With the retro-lounge movement of the mid-to-late '90s, Sumac gained new commercial life when Capitol released the "Ultra Lounge" series as well as a number of her classic titles including "Voice Of Xtabay," "Mambo," and "Legend Of The Sun Virgin."