British music entrepreneur Jamal Edwards passed away on Sunday at the age of 31. He was the founder of SBTV, an online music platform that launched artists like Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Jessie J.
Edwards was a pioneer in British rap and grime music. He was also a well-known name outside the music world. He was ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity run by Prince Charles. In 2014 he received a ribbon for his contribution to the music world.
His mother said in a statement that Edwards died of ‘sudden illness’. What that exactly means is unclear.
“My first interview ever was with you,” singer Rita Ora responds on Instagram. “Jamal, our endless conversations about music and the faith you had in me and in so many of us before we even believed in ourselves. I am devastated. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have been in your presence .”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says on Twitter that British music and entertainment has “lost one of its biggest stars”. “Today we lost a legend,” it said in a statement from YouTube. “Jamal Edwards was an inspiration to many.”
Edwards got a camera from his parents for Christmas when he was 15. That was the starting point for his YouTube career. “Everyone around me was a rapper and I remember thinking, ‘Why can’t I find them online? I missed filming people around me and uploading this to YouTube,'” Edwards told the BBC in 2017. “From there it started to grow.”
Opportunity for young people
The success of the YouTube channel SBTV (now 1.2 million subscribers) and the careers of great musicians launched there, gave Edwards international fame. He made the step into the fashion world and walked the catwalk for Hermes. He also modeled for Primark to illustrate that “affordable fashion is important”.
Edwards was known for giving young talent a chance. He was involved in several charities that focused on youth development.