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SB.TV founder Jamal Edwards dies at the age of 31 from “sudden illness”

The entrepreneur's death has been confirmed by his family

By Nick Reilly

Jamal Edwards
Jamal Edwards (Picture: Alamy).

Jamal Edwards, the founder of online music platform SB.TV – which played an integral role in launching the early career of artists including Ed Sheeran and Dave – has died at the age of 31.

In a statement, the entrepreneur’s family confirmed he died from a sudden illness and asked for their privacy to be respected while they continue to mourn his loss.

His mother Brenda Edwards, known for her appearances on The X Factor and the West End stage, said: “”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 Tanish and the rest of his family and friends are completely devastated. He was the centre of our world.

She continued: “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, PHD.”

Edwards attended the Brit Awards earlier this month and was thought to have have performed as a DJ at a gig in north London on Saturday night, the BBC reports.

Paying tribute, rapper AJ Tracey hailed Edwards as a “west London legend,” while the journalist Robert Peston also described Edwards as “an inspirational and kind man”.

Other tributes came from Lady Leshurr, who said his death was “heartbreaking” and hailed his role in helping her career.

“He gave me opportunity after opportunity to showcase my talent from Brum into London. We need to keep his name and brand alive,” she wrote. 

You can read an array of tributes to Edwards below.

Armed only with a video camera he received as a Christmas present from his parents, the Luton-born talent launched SB.TV as a 15-year-old in 2006 to provide an online platform for undiscovered musical talent across the UK.

The site and YouTube channel, its title an abbreviation of SmokeyBarz, soon developed a reputation for hosting sessions and performances from a wide array of the UK’s hottest upcoming acts. A 2010 rendition of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ from a pre global fame Ed Sheeran is considered to be a formative moment in the singer’s career and boasts 11 million views on YouTube.

Edwards was appointed an MBE for services to music in 2014 and became an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity established by the Prince of Wales to help young people follow their own business dreams.

Edwards was also widely known for remaining grounded and consistently humble in the face of success, admitting that he “never in a million years” expected to receive an MBE.

Writing about the accolade, he said: “I’m honoured to be one of the youngest people awarded with an MBE on this years New Honours list. Never in a million years did I ever think I would receive such an accolade. For me this is about us the YOUTH, with so much negativity around us it’s hard sometimes to stay positive and fight for your dreams”.

Other acts to have emerged through SB.TV include the Brit Award winning rapper Dave, who recorded his Warm Up sessions on the channel in 2015, and an early performance from Jessie J in 2020.

From humble beginnings, SB.TV has since grown to 1.22m subscribers on YouTube.