Rita Ora Biography
Monday 25 October 2010
Greatness comes from a solid sense of self. As an artist, it takes knowing who you are and exactly what you want to say. Roc Nation’s newest signee, 19 year-old Rita Ora, has no qualms with telling the world who she is. Unlike over-the-top pop stars who rely on gimmicks to express themselves, Rita’s individuality is effortless. And thanks to her tremendous vocal ability and fresh take on love and life, the British based singer is entirely unique.
“To be different you have to sound different,” says Rita. “My musical style is very free. I love pop music but I do it with an edge. I want to bring that whole British style to America, I think we take different chances musically.” Born in a small city called Pristina in Kosavo, Rita Ora’s parents moved to London to escape their war-riddled homeland when she was just two months old. They settled in West London’s subsided housing estates where Rita and her two siblings shared a small flat with their parents. When she was six, Rita started singing in a choir and because she had such a strong voice at such a young age, her choir director recommended Rita enroll in London’s top performing arts school, Sylvia Young Theatre School.
There she studied singing, songwriting, dance and drama while performing in and out of school. When she was 14, Rita was approached by a producer after singing at an open mic. “I was performing at a fun fair in the park and there was a producer there with his kids.
He saw me and he said come by my studio,” says Rita about renowned pop producer Martin Terefe. “I didn’t really take him seriously and then he gave me a card and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s got a card!’ So I went to the studio with my mum after school and I sang for him and he signed me to a two year production deal.” Terefe, who has produced big time rock acts like Jason Mraz, Train and Cat Stevens served as Rita’s first major musical mentor. “It was a great opportunity and I am really grateful because I got introduced to so many people and my name got around, but I didn’t want to come out as someone who didn’t know what they wanted to be.” Rita decided to search of a different musical fit.
Not long after, she was approached by Briony Turner, an A&R from A&M Records at a Lykke Li concert in London. Turner recognized Rita from Terefe’s studio. “She was like, ‘What are you doing with yourself?’ and I said I was about to get my degree and she goes, ‘Come see me tomorrow,” remembers Rita. “I had lunch with her the next day and I brought my laptop to play her some stuff and she was like, ‘You know who would be great for you? [Roc Nation President] Jay Brown.’ I didn’t know he had anything to do with JAY-Z at the time. She made the phone call and I sent some stuff to him.”
In December of 2008, five days after sending her music to Brown, 17 year-old Rita arrived in New York City to meet with Roc Nation executives. Three days later she secured a spot on the progressive new label. Rita was immediately blown away by her new label’s potential to create music so exactly tailored to her artistic vision.
“They played me a whole bunch of beats and demos and they all sounded amazing to me,” says Rita. “I was like you have all this stuff and no one is using it? I said to myself just as long as they get me as a person, I’m good.” Now that she has an incredible team behind her, Rita has had the chance to create her debut album which is both stylistically diverse and emotionally engaging by mixing her wide ranging mix of musical inspirations such as Sade, Amy Winehouse, MGMT, and Beyonce.
Rita’s voice envelops her LP’s tracks with a rich and sultry tone that evokes a timeless quality way beyond her 19 years. “I don’t think my album should be all one genre,” says Rita. “Every track should be whatever I listen to ‘cause that’s who I am. I see it as free pop. Music is all one thing, its just different expressions.” Luckily for Rita she has been able to express exactly what is in her heart and mind and has been blessed to work with a team who supports her every artistic urge.
“I’m just an outspoken British girl, I don’t really know how the American music industry works. It’s a privilege to learn from the legends.” Rita’s debut is sure to impact both the American charts as well as those overseas. “I love every single track because every song has a different side of me or a different meaning,” she says.
“I don’t think I need to go any further to make myself different, if you are, you’re different no matter what. I’m really up for independence and individuality. I’m just a free spirit. I think you’re going to see that when I come out.”