Remembering Jamal Edwards
The British digital and music entrepreneur has died, aged 31, and leaves behind an extraordinary legacy both at Soho House and across British culture
Monday 21 February 2022 By Anish Patel
Yesterday, the world lost a true visionary. It’s hard to summarise the brilliance of Jamal Edwards, and the groundbreaking work and legacy he leaves behind. Whether you knew him personally, from his high-profile work with communities, or as just a friendly face in the crowd, his commitment to creating meaningful change should inspire every one of us. He empowered a generation, changed the music scene in the UK forever and, above all, taught us that anything is possible through hard work. Edwards was a true creative lodestar, a once in a generation talent that we all gladly looked to for guidance.
The entrepreneur from Acton in London forged his own path at the age of 16. Frustrated with the lack of representation of grime and its artists in the music industry, he launched SBTV, a YouTube channel that helped platform the genre to a global audience. Harnessing the power of social media in those early days, Edwards rewrote the rule book and broke down barriers, giving some of the most exciting names in the game early exposure and an entry point into the mainstream. Through SBTV, Edwards paved the way for some of the UK’s hottest exports: Stormzy, Skepta, J Hus, AJ Tracey, Lady Leshurr (the list is endless), and kept the music scene beating from behind the scenes. In 2014, he helped launch the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, and was awarded an MBE for his contributions to music – ‘anything is possible if you stay dedicated’, he wrote on Facebook.
Edwards put his newfound success to good use: he was an advocate for mental health awareness, campaigning relentlessly on the issue, and created a 2017 documentary with The Guardian that broke down the stigma surrounding male mental illness. ‘As much as music is my entry point, I feel a responsibility to talk about these other issues. I wanted to get people talking to each other and they have been, I’m happy,’ he said in an interview with Music Week. Two years later, he opened his own youth centre, JE Delve (or JED), a grassroots charity that gives young people opportunities to learn, work, and connect.
And that’s what Edwards will be remembered for most – lifting others up and empowering those around him. After joining Soho House as an Under 27 Committee member more than a decade ago, through to sitting as a pivotal member of our global advisory board, he was someone who shaped our community for the better. From events and talks to content and advice, Edwards gave his time and knowledge to inspire and empower his fellow members and friends, as well as our front of house teams. No matter how big the interaction or how well you knew him, he brought an infectious and inspiring energy into our clubs that will always be remembered and missed.
Nick Jones, Soho House Founder, said, ‘Jamal was loved by everyone he came into contact with and was such a positive force for so many. I’m deeply saddened to hear the news – he has always been a beloved member of the Soho House community.’
Rest in peace, Jamal. Our thoughts go out to your family, friends, and the members you knew and brought together.