Turning adversity into a success story
When Shawn “Boz” Bosley walks into a room, his presence comes with an affable warmth. Most of the time people already know him (indicated by the number of smiles and greetings lighting up the room)—and they know him as Boz. But for those who don’t, it’s only a matter of time.Boz makes a quick habit of getting to know people. His energy is infectious, and looking back on his life, it always has been.
Today he’s a CU Denver music student known under his artist name B.0.z, his non-profit Feed the Streets, and his inherent drive to bring people together.
Boz grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, attending private school until 7th grade, where he wrote his first song. Before ever moving into a public school, Boz had taken most of his lyrical inspiration from poets like Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost, and Maya Angelou. The first album he remembers buying: Green Day’s American Idiot. Early on, from Angelou to Armstrong, they helped him realize he wanted to be a part of music “in any capacity.” Hip hop hadn’t always been his main focus, but different R&B artists like J. Holiday expanded his palette until he found a groove with artists like Lil Wayne when he came to public school. But more than any genre or side to the industry, Boz knew he just wanted to be involved: “I care about the sound of music.”
While taking dual credit classes at Moberly Area Community College and The University of Missouri, Boz got involved in the music scene of St. Louis. “My head was not where the books were,” he says. It was with the music, and more than that, the people. Still, Boz stayed in school, while working with up-and-coming acts in St. Louis helped him understand that he had potential. He then started his own label, Dynasty Records, and released his first single, “Where is the Love?” As he recalls, “I was drawing schematics of a future record label, from the attorney to what the mixing rooms look like.”
But his first venture into the label side was disastrous. He had been in connection with Lil Yachty’s people, but Dynasty’s team ended up sending the offer money to a fake booking agent. “I put my name and reputation on it,” he said, and it was a cold first welcome to an often cold industry. Online visitors thought his page was a scam, but people that knew him understood—Boz was never in it for the money.
For some time he wanted to move somewhere “progressive but unshaped.” Around that same time Boz received his acceptance letter to CU Denver. He had been thinking of transferring, and once he saw Denver he thought, “could I replicate?” In that, he wondered if he could bring that same contagious energy to a new city and find growth: “And in four months, I did.”
In 2017, Boz moved to Denver and became a part of the Denver Urban League and Mile High Young Black Professionals. He didn’t witness the same behavioral oppression that he did back home, but he did see the lack of diversity in the population. Witnessing other people with stories like his moving to Denver and bringing their culture and values was an inspiration to him. “I was shell shocked and star struck at the same time,” he said. Boz had always known he was a leader by character, but in these groups he met people who helped him discover what it means to be an active community member, to be an entrepreneur.
This is when he started Feed The Streets (FTS), a non-profit organization that prepares meals and necessities for the homeless. “It’s a thing—I feel—that you can never take away.” He saw the genuine kindness in Denver, and when he got here, it was like a “candy land” to him. But even though it was a beautiful new place, he remembered “not everything that glitters shines.” He saw the homelessness epidemic, mental health issues, the mass shootings, the teen suicides—this is where he knew he could “replicate” his energy and impact he’d had back home.
While FTS was just getting started, he remembered being warned about consistency, that volunteers wouldn’t want to come out every other week. “Three people, a hundred people, I’m going to be there,” he said. For a long time, Boz had to be his own investor, in time and funds. But as FTS developed, he started including special events to help the company grow into a community—one that still knew why it was there. FTS hosted events featuring mental health and healing from family inherited trauma, sponsored a backpack drive for the 4th annual Back 2 School Block party. He also spoke at Strive Prep Smart High School on the program and his leadership. Yet through all of FTS, Boz never used the program as something to prop up his own ego. “This idea that I have is not new, it’s just important,” he says, and it’s important to remember that the heart of helping the less fortunate isn’t about a savior complex, but about connecting a gap for actual balance and community.
Boz reached a new summit this year as the keynote speaker for Colorado School of Mines MLK Day with the National Society of Black Engineers general body. He said what he felt was beyond just energy, it was clarity: “This is what people need to know me for.” And when Boz came back home to visit, his family and friends weren’t the slightest bit surprised—they felt it was what he was born to do.
Even with all of Boz’s accomplishments, he stays grounded. “I go back home to get a pulse check,” he says. Although he’s made new efforts and built something momentous in Denver, he always stays connected to his roots. “We are responsible for the negativity in our community,” and to Boz, that means all the communities, past and present.
Boz carries an energy that makes it seem like what he does is seamless and straightforward. But while some have believed in him, others have doubted. As he says, “people love what I do, but people love to hate.” Still Boz is one who constantly sees hope through negativity, who refuses to fold despite the injustices he has seen: “I wake up with me, I go to sleep with me, so I need to make sure that what I do is valuing me.”
Stay tuned for Searching For Closure (artist name: B.0.z) to be released in March on all major streaming platforms. Feed The Streets will be announcing it’s next meet on Facebook soon.