It has been nearly six years since Rita Ora rose to prominence with the peppy single, Hot Right Now; and in those six years, she has proved that she can turn her hand to anything.
In an impressive juggling act, the 27-year-old has had judging gigs on The Voice and The X Factor, and led the reboot of America’s Next Top Model. The result: world-wide popularity and admiration.
But though her upcoming album seems to get continuously pushed back – we’ve been waiting to publish this story until she released new music – Ora’s go-getter personality is unshakeable.
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“I have been creating this album for three years, but had to stop due to TV commitments,” Ora told us when she visited Hong Kong in January. “I’ve put so much heart into this album, and I’m so proud of it.”
When she signed to Roc Nation – the record label founded by Jay-Z – in 2008, she was a fresh-faced 18-year-old from West London, who would often perform at open mic sessions in her father’s pub. Today, Ora’s musical success has earned her the title of having the most top 10 singles by a British solo female artist, elbowing past the legendary icon Shirley Bassey.
The first two singles on her upcoming, still to be named album – Your Song and Anywhere – also entered the top 10.
“I knew my single, Anywhere, was going to be a grower,” Ora said. “I’m so blessed that people like it.”
After 10 years in the business, Ora feels she is finally finding her true voice, and is excited to share it on the upcoming record.
“My album is very personal. I sing about my journey and the experiences I’ve had with different people,” she said.
“I have also been a big EDM fan, and I’m really excited to feature something cool and experimental on my album.”
Ora’s lucrative career is all the more impressive considering her extremely challenging upbringing. Her family fled their hometown – in then conflict-torn Kosovo – when she was barely a year old. She grew up in a small government house, two streets away from Grenfell Tower, the site of a horrific fire last year. This connection made it especially important that she show up and help with the relief effort on the day after the tragedy.
Her strong sense of community extends to her family, with whom she remains close despite the fame. Her family help her remain grounded in a life where she walks the red carpet wearing Marchesa, and attends parties with Kate Moss.
“My brother, sister and I walked around The Peak ... and sent selfies to our dad,” said Ora. “In fact, the last person that texted me was my dad!”
Her love for her family matches her enthusiasm for driving the conversation to prompt change within her chosen industry. In an era when the treatment of women in showbiz is under such close scrutiny, she believes in speaking out.
“It has been harder for females to make an equal mark in the industry,” she says. “I’m a feminist, and I hope that through my music, I can be a role model for women.”
Ora has come a long way from the girl that used to sing at her local pub. And she now has the respect and love from the industry and fans worldwide.
“I was a girl before. I’m a woman now. I love the journey I’m on and I will always love it,” she said. We can’t wait to see where that journey takes her next.
Edited by Ben Young