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Rita Ora

With her soulful vocals and joyful energy, British-Albanian singer and songwriter Rita Ora crafts crowd-pleasing pop hits that dip into the worlds of electronic and R&B. Making her debut in the late 2000s, she quickly rose to the top of the U.K. charts with her first album, Ora, earning the distinction of artist with the most U.K. number ones in 2012. Even after years of label issues threatened to halt her career, she remained on the charts and issued the triumphant sophomore effort Phoenix in 2018, followed by the Bang EP in 2021. After a switch to the BMG label, Ora returned in 2023 with another pop-kissed, dancefloor-friendly set, You & I. Born Rita Sahatçiu in Pristina, SFR Yugoslavia (modern-day Kosovo), to Albanian parents, she fled the country with her family in 1991, relocating to England, where she was raised in Notting Hill. An attendee of the famous Sylvia Young Theatre School, she sang from an early age and honed her skills performing in pubs and at open mikes. In 2007, she made her first official appearance, guesting on Craig David's single "Awkward"; the next year, she joined Tinchy Stryder on his single "Where's Your Love." Ora's big break arrived in 2009, when an open-mike performance attended by one of Jay-Z's A&R men landed her a deal with the rapper's label, Roc Nation. While working on her debut album, she provided the vocals for DJ Fresh's 2012 drum'n'bass hit "Hot Right Now," which topped the charts in the U.K. She returned to the number one spot that same year with her debut solo single, "R.I.P.," the first taste of her first full-length, Ora, which went straight to the number one spot on the U.K. album chart. Six years would pass before a proper sophomore follow-up, as Ora remained mired in label issues (eventually leading to a messy split with Roc Nation in 2016). Yet she remained on the charts with a consistent string of singles and collaborations, notably 2014's "Black Widow" with Iggy Azalea (her first Top Ten appearance in the U.S.), 2015's "Poison," 2017's Top Ten hit "Your Song," and 2018's "For You," a duet with Liam Payne for the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack that topped charts across Europe and was a modest hit in the U.S. Ora's official sophomore full-length, the aptly titled Phoenix, finally arrived in late 2018 on Atlantic Records. The album featured a star-studded list of producers -- including Alesso, Avicii, Benny Blanco, and Cashmere Cat -- and she also recruited Julia Michaels ("Keep Talking"), Rudimental ("Summer Love"), and Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX on the single "Girls." In 2020, Ora returned with the single "How to Be Lonely," followed closely behind by a set of remixes for the track. The next year saw the arrival of the Bang EP, which included collaborations with KHEA, David Guetta, Imanbek, and Gunna. The EP made a strong chart showing on the U.S. Dance chart, and the following year, she signed with BMG Records. After "Barricades," a 2022 collaboration with Netsky, Ora returned in January 2023 with the pulsing dance track "You Only Love Me." She followed with "Praising You," a reworking of Fatboy Slim's 1998 classic "Praise You." The song was a hit, landing Ora in the semifinal medley at Eurovision and climbing to number one in Italy and the U.S. A third dancefloor-friendly single, "Don't Think Twice," arrived weeks before the release of her third album, You & I. Another dose of euphoric escapism, the set featured production by Cirkut, Oak Felder, and more.
© Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo


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