The youngest of six siblings, Zulme “Nuffie” MacNeal grew up surrounded by musicians, educators, and the culture of New Orleans. Her family lived in the Tremé neighborhood, four blocks from Congo Square. Nuffie’s mother Isabella Wickham was a schoolteacher and her father Wendell Phillip MacNeal was an accomplished musician and music teacher. Nuffie moves to Chicago in 4th grade where she excelled in academics and playing the cello. After high school, Nuffie worked as a paralegal and secretary before moving to Washington, DC to study sociology at Howard University.
While at Howard, Nuffie befriends many professors including future Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, Dr Alain Locke, Ralph Bunche and E. Franklin Frazier. Graduating with a Masters in sociology, Nuffie commutes between DC and Harlem to continue her career in academic studies. Her active social life brought her in touch with artists and musicians including Lena Horne, Mercer Ellington, Caterina Jarsboro, and Langston Hughes. Working for the Works Progress Administration then for the Race relations Department of the Federal Housing Authority, Nuffie first meets Cab Calloway before a show in Washington, DC.
Nuffie and Cab got married and moved to West Chester, New York with their three daughters. Dedicated to raising awareness and funding for African American children and orphans, Nuffie became involved with various charities and community service organizations including the YWCA, The Urban League, The Links, The Northeasterners, and the Continentals. Over her lifetime, Nuffie was a public speaker and advocate for the needs of children and received many awards for her social contributions. In 1994, Nuffie helped to establish the Cab Calloway Foundation with a dual mission of sponsoring arts and education programs and preserving and celebrating the legend, life, and legacy of Cab Calloway.