From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

White, Allen Zack, Sr. [Whyte, Zack or Zach]

(born: October 19, 1896  -  died: March 10, 1967) 

Zack Whyte, born in Richmond, KY, played the banjo and piano and was also a bandleader. He was a member of Horace Henderson's student band while he was enrolled at Wilberforce College [now Wilberforce University], forming his own band in 1923.

He would become the leader of the group known as the Chocolate Beau Brummels, a very successful band. Some of the group's recordings include Good Feelin' Blues, It's Tight Like That, and Mandy. Group members included Herman Chittison, Al Sears, Bubber Whyte, and Henry Savage. The band was ranked 4th in the nation's top 10 by Savoy Ballroom and Moe Gage Agency. Zack Whyte was also the first to have a Negro band with a regular program on station WLW in Cincinnati, OH. He retired from music in 1942.

Zack Whyte's name had also been spelled with an 'h': Zach Whyte. The headstone on his grave has his birth name, Allen Zach White, Sr. [source: Find A Grave]. He died March 10, 1967 at the Veterans Hospital in Lexington, KY and is buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, OH. He was a Navy veteran and a member of the Ralph H. Green American Legion Post in Cincinnati. He was the husband of Marguerite Warford White and the father of Allen Z. White, Jr.

Allen Zach White, Sr. was the youngest son of Nero and Narcisse White; the family of eight lived on Irvine Street in Richmond, KY [source: 1900 U.S. Census]. The family was still in Richmond in 1910. By 1920, all the children had moved out except John, who lived with his father, Nero White, head of the household and a widower [source: 1920 U.S. Census].

Nero's youngest son, Allen Z. White, had moved to Cincinnati [sources: 1920 U.S. Census; and p.1836 in William's Cincinnati Directory 1927-28]. In 1920, he was living with his sister Mamie White Chenault and her family on Kerper Avenue. Mamie's husband Robert (also from Kentucky) and her brother Allen were chauffeurs for a private family. Allen was also a musician and bandleader who went by the name Zack [or Zach] Whyte. In 1930, Allen was the husband of Marguerite Warford White and the father of Allen Zach White, Jr. [source: 1930 U.S. Census]. The White family, and 19-year-old musician Melvin Oliver, all rented rooms from Loretta Jones, who was from Kentucky. They lived at 3057 Kerper Avenue.

After his music career ended in 1942, Zach Whyte used his birth name, Allen Z. White. He and his wife moved to Charlevoix, MI, where they purchased land at Lake Michigan and developed the summer resort Zac Mar Pines [source: "Zack Whyte now beer salesman," Indianapolis Recorder, 11/21/1953, p. 3. Online at Hoosier State Chronicles.]. During the winter months, Allen Z. White, Sr. managed the Sportsman Club in Newport, KY.  By 1959, he was a salesman at the Burger Brewery in Cincinnati, OH [source: p. 1396 in the Cincinnati, Ohio City Directory, 1959 (in Ancestry)]. Six years earlier on September 1, 1953, Allen Z. White was appointed to a public relations position and conntinued to be a salesman. His territory included Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, and Kentucky. He was the first African American hired by the Burger Brewery Company. He continued working for the company until he became ill and sought treatment in Kentucky at the veterans' hospital [source: "Orc. leader Zack White is buried in Cincinnati," Indianapolis Recorder, 3/25/1967, p. 10. Online at Hoosier State Chronicles].

Allen Z. White, Sr. was survived by his wife, son, brother A. J. White in Richmond, KY; and his remaining siblings in Cincinnati: John D. White, Mattie White Miller, and Mamie White Chenault.

For more see "Zack Whyte" in Oxford Music Online; Zack Whyte and his Chocolate Beau Brummels at The Red Hot Jazz Archive; and Zack Whyte in Classic Jazz.

Kentucky County & Region

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Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“White, Allen Zack, Sr. [Whyte, Zack or Zach],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 22, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/1831.

Last modified: 2023-12-26 07:41:58