Since leaving school and launching SBTV in 2006 Jamal Edwards MBE has accomplished truly incredible moments in music and media. For those of you that are unfamiliar with SBTV, it began as a urban music channel on YouTube that has grown into something spectacular. I often remember watching videos on SBTV of well-known artists, and artists breaking into the industry - something Jamal had a special talent for, capturing newly developing talent in the early staged and giving them a platform. In my opinion, a number of artists today was exposed to SBTV's millions of followers which contributed to their success today.
Jamal grew up in Acton, West London and left school with only a few GCSEs. Not getting great support from teachers at school led to him getting support and interest from Bollo Brook and Friary Park youth centres. Jamal completed a film course and studied how to use music study equipment and at 18 then launching SBTV YouTube channel now a £8million business. Growing millions of viewers and subscribers, Jamal had done something that had not been ever done before, giving countless underground rappers, grime stars and even Ed Sheeran a platform to be seen and heard.
Jamal has a lot of appreciation to those at the youth clubs that supported his dreams, however he feels and that same support is missing in the lack of funding in services such as Youth clubs and has honourably refurbished and reopened four youth centres in Action to give the kids and teens growing up in the same area he did a chance to be something.
With the youth clubs running for 22 weeks, they have been overwhelmed with the turnout of those attending dealing with hundreds of kids on a regular basis. But Jamal feels this is only the beginning, "I want it to be thousands. I want to give the kids different experiences and listen to what they want. The biggest thing I want to give young people is make them know their potential.”
Jamal has amazing negotiated funding for the services from the likes of Google, his inner Acton boy came out in him and he has hustled funding from a number of great companies that are happy to support the organisation, and since the project began 18 months ago around £100k has been donated.
For Jamal, this is a long-term plan with hopes for these centres to spread across the country.
“I’ve got a kid who wants to be a mechanic; we hooked him up with an apprenticeship with Mercedes Benz. Nike donated tickets to a football match. Rihanna’s nail technician did a workshop at one of the clubs. Ed Sheeran came down. Hopefully it has a knock-on effect, but in terms of activities we plan, I always try and link it to what the kids want to do and what I have access to. I want to give them as many different experiences as I can.”
“Part of me thinks I have a responsibility as well. You have to give back to the community – that’s a passion of mine. And a lot of young people know me and follow me, so I feel I have a responsibility to them and to show this can be done. If I can do it off my own back, it could make councils stop and think ‘if he’s doing it, what are we doing?’. Hopefully it might inspire some fire in them.”
We look forward to watching Jamal go to new heights and helping many others along the way!