British music entrepreneur Jamal Edwards died on Sunday (Feb. 20). He’s the founder of the online music platform SBTV (SmokeyBarz TV) and helped to launch the careers of many artists, including Ed Sheeran. He was 31.
According to the BBC, it’s believed that he performed as a DJ Saturday night in London. His cause of death was not immediately known.
His mother, Brenda Edwards, a panelist on the British TV talk show Loose Women, tweeted confirmation of his death on Monday. She said that he died from 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,” she tweeted.
"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 and PHD."
In one of his final Instagram posts, Edwards sent a birthday tribute to Sheeran. He captioned their photo together, “Happy Birthday to the OG, Ed. Blessed to have you in my life brother. You know you've been mates a long time when you lose count on the years! Keep smashing it & inspiring us all G!”
According to the BBC, Edwards' career started at age 15 when he received a video camera for Christmas.
"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."
He would become a pioneer in British rap and grime music. His YouTube SBTV channel launched in 2006 "on a £20 phone" and now has 1.2 million subscribers and nearly 1 billion total views. Over the years, it introduced a long list of new British rap artists to the world, including Skepta, Stormzy, and Lady Leshurr.
Edwards would also rub shoulders with British royalty as an ambassador for the Prince's Trust to help young people become entrepreneurs. Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, sent their condolences.
“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.”
From artists and musicians to elected officials, many other people also shared their memories and expressed condolences.