DAMON BAKER Despite being signed to Jay-Z’s label, Roc Nation, Rita Ora has been easing her way into stardom, starting with YouTube videos and memorable Instagram posts.
Despite being signed to Jay-Z’s label, Roc Nation, Rita Ora has been easing her way into stardom, starting with YouTube videos and memorable Instagram posts.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about Rita Ora — a brilliant contradiction of grit and glamour that plays out in both her music and her style. While in the pages of magazines she oozes opulence as the face of legendary designer Roberto Cavalli; on stage she dominates with a rockstar-meets-diva presence and pop/club anthems that always get the audience to its feet. Having cemented her presence on the United Kingdom charts, Ora is now setting her sights on the United States, and is heading to D.C. this month as part of her tour.

Ora never had the luxury of overnight success. Although her singles, most notably her party anthem “How We Do” and Tinie Tempah-featured “R.I.P.” leapt up the charts, her success has been a work in progress. She began performing at local open mic nights in London and at her dad’s pub before getting picked up by Jay-Z in New York and getting signed to his record label, Roc Nation. Jay-Z told the the press that she would be the next Beyonce, but Ora proceeded to lay low, spending the next few years sharing her songs through YouTube, waiting for her label to approve her debut album. In 2012, she finally released “R.I.P,” her first single, and it jumped to number one in the U.K. charts. Ora has maintained a steady presence since then.

Nonetheless, Ora has had to fight for her place in the industry and the hearts of fans. A number of successful collaborations with artists like Chase & Status and Calvin Harris helped to spread her sound across the U.K. music market, while her latest release, the steamy “Body on Me” with Chris Brown, has put her on the U.S. charts.

Not satisfied with making her mark in the music industry with her mix of rhythym and blues, rock and pop influences, Ora has also brought her killer style to television screens as one of the judges on the U.K.’s “The X Factor.” Having successfully broken into the world of celebrity, Ora’s life is one that immediately makes you envious; a glance at her Instagram shows her darting between singing on stage with Wiz Khalifa, hanging out with her “wifey,” supermodel Cara Delevigne, and appearing in the Chanel couture show in Paris for her pal Karl Lagerfeld.

Despite these glamorous moments, there is something charmingly relatable about the singer, who will happily show off her broken nails and bizarre selfies to her 5.8 million Instagram followers alongside these glamorous shots. As a judge on the U.K.’s “The Voice,” she let her sense of humor shine through, and endeared herself even more to her ever-growing hoard of teen and 20-something fans.
With hits such as “Black Widow” (with Iggy Azalea) and “Poison” making waves in the U.S., it’s no surprise that her upcoming show at U Street Music Hall on Sept. 15 sold out in just a few short days. Her killer style and powerful stage presence guarantees that it will be an electric performance. If you were slow off the mark and failed to grab your ticket, why not turn up and try to charm your way in? After all, that’s what Rita Ora would do.

Ora will perform at U Street Music Hall September 15, 2015 and she gave The Hoya an exclusive preview interview.

What excites you the most about performing in D.C.? If you had a day off to explore the city, what would be on your bucket list?

I can’t wait to come to D.C.! I can’t believe the show sold out so quickly! America is so big, and every time I get to see a new city, I love just wandering around and exploring new neighborhoods.

What aspect of music do you enjoy the most – recording, collaborating, performing, etc.?

I love it all. It all starts with writing and recording, and getting to perform the songs live and watch how the audience reacts is amazing!

If you could give college students any piece of advice, what would it be, and why?

Never give up on your dreams and never let anyone tell you that you “can’t” do something. There will always be obstacles but if you’re focused and passionate, you can achieve anything.

Do you consider social media more of a chore or a pleasure?

I love it! It’s such an amazing way for me to talk directly with my fans.

Were you always passionate about fashion? Whose closet would you most like to raid?

Yes! I love experimenting with fashion! Some days, I’m in jeans and a rock ‘n’ roll T-shirt and the next day I get really dressed up! I’ve always loved Gwen Stefani’s style … I would love to see her closet!

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