Tributes have been paid to music entrepreneur and SBTV founder Jamal Edwards, who has died aged 31, with admirers and loved ones organising a vigil in west London to honour his life and legacy.
His mother, Brenda Edwards, a regular panellist on ITV’s Loose Women, paid tribute to her “beautiful son”, who died suddenly on Sunday morning.
In a statement released on the show’s official Twitter account, Edwards said her family and friends were “completely devastated” and confirmed that Jamal had died “after a sudden illness”.
The music entrepreneur gained fame after setting up the new music platform in 2006, and was credited with helping to launch a series of UK music acts to stardom, including Ed Sheeran, Dave and Jessie J.
Brenda Edwards wrote: “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.”
Jamal was known for founding the media platform SBTV, which started off as a YouTube channel and helped catapult grime and a wave of new artists to a global audience. He was also a director, author, DJ, entrepreneur and designer, and at 24 he was awarded an MBE for his work in music.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to the entrepreneur, with the Clarence House Twitter account stating: “Thinking of the family of Jamal Edwards today. His work in music but also as an ambassador for a new generation, including his work for The Prince’s Trust, were an inspiration to so many.”
Former prime minister David Cameron, now chair of the National Citizen Service’s Board of Patrons, said his thoughts and prayers were with Edwards’s family, adding that through his work with the NCS Edwards had supported young people “to be the best they could be, leading from the front & showing what’s possible with hard work and determination”.
Sir Richard Branson, who penned the foreword for Edwards’ 2013 book Self Belief: The Vision, said: “What a loss of a truly extraordinary young man who made a huge difference to so many people’s lives.”
On Loose Women on Monday the panel became tearful as they watched clips of Edwards.
Host Charlene White said: “The love Brenda had for both Jamal and her daughter, Tanisha, was massive. Her heart was full of so much love for those children. So you know just how shocked Brenda is and just how hard it’s hit all of us who knew him and of course all of us who love Brenda.”
The Instragram account Acton Unframed organised a candlelight vigil “in loving memory of our local hero Jamal Edwards” on Acton High Street.
The careers of a long list of the world’s most successful musicians were launched through SBTV, before they were signed by major labels.
Jamal said he started SBTV “on a £20 phone” while he was at school. His YouTube channel was established in 2006 and has 1.2 million subscribers and nearly 1bn total views.
He was born in Luton in 1990 and grew up in Acton, west London. He received a BTec diploma in media moving image from Ealing college and worked at the retail chain Topman to support himself while developing SBTV.
When he found success, Edwards undertook extensive philanthropic work, including in mental health and the funding of youth centres.
He worked to break down taboos about men’s mental health, speaking of his own anxiety, and in 2021 launched a project aimed at refurbishing and reopening youth centres. He was also an ambassador for the Prince of Wales’s charity, the Prince’s Trust.
The singer Rita Ora said in an Instagram post: “My first ever interview was with you. Jamal, Our endless talks on music and the belief you had in me and so many of us before we even believed in ourselves. I’m devastated. No words can describe how grateful I am to of been in your presence. Thank you for all you ever showed me. My heart goes out to @brendaedwardsglobal and the whole family. RIP.”