Music pioneer Jamal Edwards' impact on a generation of artists and young entrepreneurs is unparalleled. The world mourns the music mogul, who passed away on February 20, 2022, leaving behind a legacy for a generation of dreamers inspired by his career.
A pioneering figure in the music industry, Edwards took his first steps toward success in 2006, when he launched SBTV (SmokeyBarz TV), an online platform showcasing tracks by rising artists. Musicians who rose to fame through his platform include Dave, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran, and Skepta. It eventually gained 1.2 million subscribers and approximately 1 billion total views. In a 2017 interview, he shared the story behind his success, saying, "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."
As Edwards' success grew, he began helping young entrepreneurs follow in his footsteps. He became an ambassador for the Prince's Trust, a youth charity founded by Prince Charles of Wales to help young people start their own businesses. In 2014, he was appointed an MBE for his services to music. The Prince's Trust paid tribute to Edwards, tweeting, "An incredible innovator and entrepreneur, Jamal Edwards MBE has been an inspiration for so many young people, through our work and beyond. Our thoughts are with his family."
A wave of sadness washed over the music industry, with several artists paying tribute to Edwards and praising him for his efforts in helping young dreamers. Musician Nadia Rose said, "In the music and leisure industries, it’s uncommon to discover folks like Jamal," describing him as a "cultural architect" and "a powerhouse." Rapper Lady Leshur, who previously worked with Edwards on SB.TV, described the news of his death as "heartbreaking," saying that he "gave me opportunity after opportunity to showcase my talent from Brum into London. We need to keep his name and brand alive." Actress Linda Robson, who works with Edwards' mother on Loose Women, tweeted, "Your light shone so brightly that it touched so many of us, impacted the lives of many more, and changed the game forever. And, you are my Brenda’s son. There are no words to describe her heartbreak, our heartbreak, now that your light has gone. Sometimes life is terribly unfair."