UK pop star Rita Ora is returning to Dubai to perform this Friday (October 11) at W Dubai, The Palm, sandwiched on a bill between Australian alt-dance group Rufus Du Sol and English DJ duo Disclosure.
28-year-old Ora has gone through ups-and-downs since signing her first record deal more than a decade ago, but has since dominated the Top 10 with hits such as ‘Your Song’, ‘Anywhere’ and ‘I Will Never Let You Down’.
As she heads back to the UAE, we take a look at her musical journey so far.
1. She almost went on Eurovision 10 years ago
Ora auditioned to be the British contestant on the European talent hunt Eurovision in 2009 — and she qualified. But the singer decided to step away from the competition a few episodes in, saying she didn’t feel ready and that the experience wasn’t for her. You can still find Ora’s decade-old audition online, with the presenter introducing her as “18-year-old Rita from London.” (“It’s very scary,” said a fresh-faced Ora at the time, “but hopefully I can blow them away.”)
2. She began her rise to fame before her first album even dropped
Ora’s first real introduction to the public — or rather, the public’s first real introduction to her — was via the DJ Fresh single ‘Hot Right Now’. The 2012 track hit No 1 in the UK upon its debut, propelling Ora, the song’s main vocalist, onto the nation’s radar. ‘How Right Now’ ended up as a bonus track on the Ora’s self-titled debut album, ‘Ora’.
3. She was one of the first artists to sign to Jay Z’s record label Roc Nation
Jay Z founded Roc Nation in mid-2008. By December, Ora had signed a publishing deal with them. She made cameo appearances in Jay Z’s music video for Young Forever (2009) and Drake’s video Over (2010). Speaking to the UK publication Evening Standard in 2013, Ora said: “The best thing Jay Z ever taught me was patience… He’s like the best older brother a girl could ever have.” It took her four years to release her first single under the label; How We Do (Party) went straight to No. 1 in the UK.
4. Things took a sour turn in 2015 as Ora took legal action against Roc Nation
After releasing her debut album Ora in 2012, Ora toured the world and often spoke about her second album. However, despite continuing to release songs — such as I Will Never Let You Down and Black Widow with Iggy Azalea — there was no sophomore album in sight. By 2015, Ora went to court claiming that Roc Nation had only permitted her to release one album and that her relationship with the label was “irrevocably damaged”. Roc Nation countered her lawsuit and the two parties reached a settlement the following year.
5. Ora enters into phase 2.0 of her career with a new deal
Ora finally released her sophomore record ‘Phoenix’ in 2018, under Atlantic Records UK. The lead single ‘Your Song’ broke the Top 10 in the UK. Speaking to Marie Claire last month, Ora said: “What I went through musically, not to go into it all politically, but I had a lot to get out — desperation, anger, sadness and happiness. It was a mix of emotions, whereas my first album was a party album. It was just happy.”
She also said she was working on her third album, which would centre more around her “being content.”
Don’t miss it!
Tickets are available online, with some categories already sold out. The event is 21+ only.