This lunchtime I appeared on BBC News London to pay tribute to Jamal Edwards MBE, an extraordinary man who will never be forgotten.
But though he was working hard pushing the boundaries of British urban music from his teens onwards with a camera his mum Brenda got him and a YouTube channel democratising ten platforms by which young people could get their music out to a wider public he was never bombastic and showy or self aggrandising. Indeed he was the opposite – giving back to his community. I was with him at council functions like performing the opening of a youth centre, switching on the Christmas lights but he first came to me as a punter at my MP advice surgery with ideas about a youth work charity he was setting up. He championed youth expression through arts be it recording studios in youth clubs on estates or our recently opened community art house cinema in a repurposed semi derelict Passmore Edwards library on Acton High Street.
The list of artists associated with him is endless and eclectic – Stormsy, Niki Minaj, Ed Sheeran. His contribution to the way we make music today is immeasurable – demystifying the music biz with the SBTV platform that allowed kids to get out their music direct without unnecessary stultifying layers of bureaucracy.
My timelines today are full of charities I work with as MP mouning his passing and praising him for helping out behind the scenes there – Acton Homeless Concern, Ealing Soup Kitchen, Ealing Wildlife. It’s almost a quasi-Diana thing: we knew about many of her charitable works after her death. In the same way the mural to Jamal unveiled only in 2021 (who knew he’d be departed from this earth so soon?) is a site where flowers are being laid today – analagous to the David Bowie wall in Brixton that’s now a shrine. Except Jamal has been taken from us sooner than either. He still had so much more to give.