Tribute: Jamal Edwards, The Black-British Music Entrepreneur Who Utilized Youtube In Its Infancy To Create A Thriving Empire, Dies Aged 31
British entrepreneur and YouTube star Jamal Edwards has died at the age of 31, his company has told the BBC, but his cause of death has not yet been revealed.
He was the founder of SBTV, an online urban music platform that helped launch the careers of artists like Dave, Ed Sheeran, and Skepta.
His YouTube channel, which was started in 2006 “on a £20 phone” while he was still at school, has given early exposure to almost every key player in the game including the much-loved Stormzy, Skepta, JME, J Hus, and Dave.
In a statement read out by Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain today, Brenda, a Loose Women panelist who found fame finishing fourth on the X Factor in 2005, said: “It is with the deepest heartache that I confirm that my beautiful son Jamal Edwards passed away yesterday morning after a sudden illness,” Brenda penned.
“Myself, his sister Tanisha and the rest of his family and friends are completely devastated. He was the centre of our world.
“As we come to terms with his passing we ask for privacy to grieve this unimaginable loss. I would like to thank everyone for their messages of love and support.
“Jamal was an inspiration to myself and so many. Our love for him lives on, his legacy lives On Long live Jamal Edwards MBE, MBA, PHD.”
Leaving school, Edwards got a job in retail but continued to work on videos avidly, eventually making the move to producing clips full time.
It could be argued that SBTV was formed out of frustration at the lack of exposure young people were being given.
“Everyone in my area was an MC and I remember thinking, ‘Why can’t I find these online? I’m going to film people in my area and upload it to Youtube’.” Edwards told BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2017. “And from there it just started building and growing.”
SBTV has now grown to 1.22 million subscribers on YouTube.
Jamal is responsible for paving the pathway for so many young Brits – particularly those of color – encouraging them to believe in themselves and their vision. The 31-year-old was awarded an MBE for his services to music in 2014.
A trailblazer in British rap and grime music, he also became an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity run by the Prince of Wales which helps young people set up their own companies.
Edwards also founded JE Delve, a grassroots charity that provides youth clubs as well as learning and work opportunities for young people in west London, where he grew up after he and his family moved there from Luton.
Outside of music and business – he wrote a book – described as a mix of a memoir and a business manual – called Self Belief: The Vision: How to Be a Success on Your Own Terms.
By the age of 23, Edwards was reportedly worth more than £8million.
Tributes have flooded in on social media with the London Mayor saying: “British music and entertainment “has lost one of its brightest stars”.
Presenter and comedian Mo Gilligan, who hosted this year’s Brit awards, tweeted: “A truly humble and blessed soul. Your legacy will live on for years & you’ve inspired a whole generation.”
In a tweet, the organizers of Mobo Awards said they were “deeply saddened” to learn of Edwards’ death.
They added: “As the founder of @SBTVonline, his groundbreaking work & legacy in British music and culture will live on. Our hearts and thoughts are with his friends and family.”
Chelsea FC, tweeted: “We’re deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jamal Edwards. An inspiration to many, we’re honored that he was part of our Chelsea family. Our thoughts are with everyone who knew and loved him.”
While Youtube wrote: “We’ve lost a legend today. Jamal Edwards was an inspiration to so many, supporting artists and shaping culture through @SBTVonline. Sending our condolences to Jamal’s family & community.”