Jamal Edwards, the pioneering British music entrepreneur and founder of popular online media channel SBTV, passed away on Sunday at the age of 31. The news of his death was shared by his mother in a statement on Monday.
Brenda Edwards, who is a panelist on the British daytime talk show Loose Women, said her son passed away on Sunday morning after a “sudden illness.” “Myself, his sister Tanisha and the rest of his family and friends are completely devastated. He was the center of our world,” she wrote in the statement posted on the show’s Twitter account.
“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,” she added. “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 and PHD.”
A trailblazing personality in British rap and the grime genre, Jamal rose to stardom in 2006 after launching SmokeyBarz TV (SBTV), PEOPLE reported. Through that platform, Jamal cast spotlights on music prodigies and helped launch their careers. Some of these artists have since gone mainstream.
Here are some more facts you may not know about the deceased music icon:
Though born in the British town of Luton, Jamal’s family is from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Jamal is also a recipient of the prestigious St Vincent Business Award.
Pioneering music entrepreneur
Through SmokeyBarz TV (SBTV) online music channel, Jamal helped launch the careers of several musicians including Dave, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran and Skepta, CNN reported. “My first ever interview was with you,” British singer Rita Ora shared in an Instagram post on Monday.
“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.”
Jamal launched the popular platform in 2006. The SBTV channel on YouTube currently has around 1.2 million subscribers and a viewership of almost 1 billion.
“Everyone in my area was an MC and I thought ‘Alright if everyone is doing MCing what else can I do that’s around the music?’” Jamal told BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2017. “I remember I was just sitting there and was thinking, ‘Why can’t I find these online?’ and if they were online it was just bad-quality versions, so I thought ‘Alright, cool, I’m going to try and film people in my area and upload it to YouTube.’ And from there it just started building and growing.”
Jamal received an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in 2014 for his services to music, CNN reported. He was 24 at the time.
Outside music, Jamal served as an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, a youth charity that helps young people start their own businesses. The charity, which is overseen by the Prince of Wales, also helps young people get into education and training.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, paid tribute to Jamal in a statement on their official Twitter account on Monday. “Thinking of the family of Jamal Edwards today,” the statement, which was shared alongside a photo of the Prince of Wales and Jamal, read.
“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.”
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. https://t.co/upNgux1mxU
— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) February 21, 2022