Jamal Edwards: British music entrepreneur and YouTube star dies aged 31

The industry pioneer helped to launch Jessie J and Ed Sheeran to musical stardom

British entrepreneur Jamal Edwards has died at the age of 31.

Edwards gained fame from setting up new music platform SBTV, which helped to launch a string of UK music careers including Dave and Jessie J.

His mother, singer and TV presenter Brenda Edwards said Jamal was “the centre of our world” as she paid tribute to him following his death on Sunday morning.

The Loose Women panellist thanked everyone for “messages of love and support” following the sudden death of SBTV founder Jamal, who gained fame from setting up the new music platform in 2006, which is often credited as helping to launch a string of UK music careers including Dave, Ed Sheeran and Jessie J.

In 2014, he was awarded an MBE for his services to music. He was also an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a charity headed by the Prince of Wales.

Edwards was a teenager when he decided to launch the youth broadcasting and production company SBTV to upload clips he recorded of his friends performing on the estate where he lived in Acton, west London.

By 2014, he had amassed an estimated fortune of about £8 million ($10.8m) and worked with the likes of Jessie J, Emeli Sande and Ed Sheeran.

After receiving his MBE, he said he started SBTV to give his friends a platform.

Britain's Prince Charles with Jamal Edwards during a live session at the launch of the Prince's Trust Summer Sessions. PA

“It was a frustration of going to school and everyone talking about, ‘How do we get our videos on MTV?'" Edwards said.

“YouTube was like a year old. I was like, ‘I’ve got a camera for Christmas, I’m going to start filming people and uploading it’.

“Everyone was looking at me like, ‘What are you doing, like you can compete with these major corporations’, but I think I was early enough to believe that I could make a change.”

In the same interview, he described his working relationship with musicians as “symbiotic”.

“Fifty per cent is the talent and 50 per cent is the platform,” he said.

“I try to focus on people who haven’t got the platform. As well as getting a really well-known artist, I want to get the up-and-coming ones as well.”

In a statement read out on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and shared on Loose Women’s Twitter account on Monday morning, Edwards said: “It is with the deepest heartache that I confirm that my beautiful son Jamal Edwards passed away yesterday morning after a sudden illness.

“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 asked 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.”

afta-winning actor writer, director, and producer Adam Deacon, known for his leading role in Kidulthood, said he was “heartbroken” about Edwards’ death.

He said on Twitter: “Today I was on set when I found out the tragic news that my good friend Jamal Edwards had passed away and I’m honestly heartbroken.

“Jamal was one of the nicest, most down to earth and humble men I’ve met in this industry. He always gave me time even when no one else would.

“He was an inspiration and what he achieved in life was truly remarkable. Thinking of his friends and family at this devastating time. RIP Jamal Edwards.”

The official YouTube Twitter account said the industry had “lost a legend”, adding: “Jamal Edwards was an inspiration to so many, supporting artists and shaping culture through @SBTVonline. Sending our condolences to Jamal’s family & community.”

Tributes also extended beyond the entertainment landscape, with Chelsea FC paying respects to the Blues superfan.

Updated: February 21, 2022, 10:11 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS