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Hot right now! Rita Ora came from nowhere to release three No 1 singles and a chart-topping debut album. She talks to ANDY WELCH about her rise to fame.

Byline: ANDY WELCH

AT the tail end of 2011, Rita Ora appeared in the video for Hot Right Now with DJ Fresh. Before that, she'd only really been seen in a handful of online videos, but by the time of the song's official release in February last year - it went straight to No 1 and ended up selling more than 480,000 copies - she was one of the most talked-about singers in the country.

As an introduction, it clearly worked, and Ora's subsequent two singles, RIP with Tinie Tempah and How We Do followed Hot Right Now to No 1. Meanwhile, her debut album Ora topped the chart, finishing the year with sales of around 240,000.

"That's definitely the most surreal thing that's happened to me," says the 22-year-old.

"The success of the singles, and the tour selling out within minutes of the tickets going on sale as well - all of last year was crazy."

Ora is getting used to "surreal". She was signed by Jay-Z's management company and record label Roc Nation in New York after Mr Beyonce himself called to request a meeting.

At the time she was at college studying for her A-levels and working in a trainer shop on Portobello Road in west London in order to pay musicians to play with her at gigs in the evening.

"I'd play anywhere - bars and clubs, in my dad's pub, just to be out singing," she says. "I guess Roc Nation heard about me just through people they know in the industry, called me up and asked for a meeting.

"It was a real pinch-yourself moment, and the meeting we had when I met Jay-Z was just unbelievable. It was so nerve-wracking, interesting, exciting and weird all at the same time. You know when you can feel someone's power? It was like that, you could just tell when you walked in the room that he was powerful and successful.

"It was so odd. I walked in, shook his hand and then we were suddenly having a conversation.

Now it feels like we've known each other a long time. I get lots of advice from him. He's not just a great friend, but a boss and a brother. He's the man."

That is a rather simplified version of events, of course. Multi-million-selling artists and business moguls like Jay-Z don't just call 18-yearold singers in London on the off chance. Ora has pursued a career in showbiz from a young age and went to the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School in London.

"I loved the school," she says. "My choir teacher at primary school told me about the school. The audition was massively exciting, and I'm really proud of the fact I got in and went. I really didn't think I'd be good enough, but then the only thing I was ever interested in was singing. Ever since I was really little, like six or something, it's all I've wanted to do."

Ora is also excited about her Brit Award nominations, where she's up for two awards: Best Breakthrough and Best Single, in which she has two songs on the shortlist.

"I went to the Brits last year and no one even noticed I was there, no one took a photograph or anything, and a year later I'm up for some awards," she says.

Immediately after her UK tour, she has dates in Australia, and then mainland Europe. Between now and the summer she'll record her second album, and hopes to have it released by the end of the year.

"My first album was finished when I was 19, and I'm 22 now, so I have a lot more I want to talk about and say," she adds.

Rita Ora appears at Birmingham's O2 Academy on Saturday.

factfile ? She appeared in the British film Spivs in 2004. ? Ora appeared on her first music release in 2007, guesting on Craig David song Awkward. A year later, she featured on Tinchy Stryder's Where's Your Love.

In 2009, she audi-tioned on Your Country Needs You to sing for the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, but later withdrew her entry.

With three No 1 singles during 2012 - two of her own and one with DJ Fresh - she was the artist with the most chart-topping singles last year.

'"It was a real pinch-yourself moment, and the meeting with Jay-Z was just unbelievable RITA ORA

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Rita Ora will be recording her second album between now and the summer.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 8, 2013
Words:746
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