LOS ANGELES, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Peruvian-born singer Yma Sumac has died in Los Angeles following a bout with colon cancer, her personal assistant said. Sumac was 86.
Sumac, known for her multi-octave vocal range, died Saturday at an assisted living facility in Silver Lake, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in February, her assistant and friend Damon Devine told the newspaper.
Known as the "Nightingale of the Andes" and the "Peruvian Songbird," Sumac hit the top of the charts in the 1950s with her first album, "Voice of the Xtabay." With a vocal range covering at least 4 1/2 octaves and an exotic look enhanced by elaborate costumes, Sumac was a one-of-a-kind performer.
"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," a Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote following a 1955 performance.
Sumac performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall, and appeared on Broadway in the 1951 musical "Flahooley." She also appeared in the movies "Secret of the Incas" (1954) and "Omar Khayyam" (1957), the Times said.
Devine told the newspaper Sumac was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo in Cajamarca, Peru, but details of her personal life were often a mystery.
"She's a very eccentric woman," Devine said. "Her whole career and life is based on her mystery, and so the facts and fiction is a fine line with her."