Family affair: As CBOYZ, brothers sing about the plight of orphans
Poverty, orphans and broken homes don't seem like the kind of subjects a boy band would sing about.
But CBOYZ isn't your ordinary outfit.
Woodbury brothers Bon, Denzel and Tyler Chinanga sing, dance and dress like they're gunning for a spot on "America's Got Talent." But under the show biz savvy is a humanitarian message of hope and compassion.
It was that compassion that moved eldest brother Bon Chinanga to write "Everyone Should Know" three years ago. Now 13, he said he was motivated after he saw a display that depicted the suffering of orphans in his mother's native Cameroon.
"Me and Denzel, we wrote this song and we said, 'Wow, we should keep doing this,'" said Bon, a seventh-grader at Woodbury Middle School.
Since then, CBOYZ (the C stands for "caring"), have performed for kids at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, the Holidazzle in Minneapolis and the Minnesota State Fair. They performed at District 833's African-American Celebration.
"We're never shy," Bon Chinanaga said. "When we were on stage, we'd talk a little bit, like, 'Wow! Look at this crowd.' We pretend there's nobody there. I said, 'Pretend like you're performing in front of the mirror.'"
In May, the sixth- and seventh-grade choirs at Woodbury Middle School each will perform a CBOYZ song, "Can't Bring Us Down," and "Feel My Pain," respectively.
"Feel My Pain," is sung from the point of view of Natalie, a foster child. "Every day I wake up hoping I don't have to move again," goes one lyric.
Bon came out with the " Feel My Pain" concept and producer Francis Sampah wrote the song.
CBOYZ are celebrities in Cameroon, where they toured last year with their mother, Marie. They appeared on national TV and performed a concert to benefit sick children at a local hospital. Bon and his brothers also got to meet their grandmother for the first time.
Denzel, 12, and Tyler, 6, attend Woodbury Middle School and Woodbury Elementary School. Marie Chinanga said that her children are allowed to rehearse only after they've finished their homework.
Bon's full name, Bonaventure, means "good fortune," and he seems intent on sharing that bounty with the less fortunate through music.
"We're just a couple of singers," he said. "We're not pop stars."
For their latest song, "Everybody Dance," the trio worked with a professional producer.
"I want to get signed by a record label and go out more with my brothers," Bon Chinanga said. "We're just going to keep spreading awareness."