Rita Sahatçiu Ora (born Rita Sahatçiu; 26 November 1990) is an English singer, songwriter and actress. She rose to prominence in February 2012 when she featured on DJ Fresh’s single “Hot Right Now”, which reached number one in the UK. Her debut studio album, Ora, released in August 2012, debuted at number one in the United Kingdom. The album contained the UK number-one singles, “R.I.P.” and “How We Do (Party)”. Ora was the artist with the most number-one singles on the UK Singles Chart in 2012, with three singles reaching the top position.
Ora’s second studio album, Phoenix, was released in November 2018. The lead single, “Your Song”, reached the UK top ten, and the subsequent singles “Anywhere” and “Let You Love Me” reached the top five in the UK. “Let You Love Me” made Ora the first British female solo artist to have thirteen top ten songs in the United Kingdom.
Ora was born in Pristina, SFR Yugoslavia (present-day Kosovo), to Albanian parents. Her mother, Vera (née Bajraktari), is a psychiatrist, and her father, Besnik Sahatçiu, is a pub owner, having previously studied economics. Ora has an older sister, Elena, and a younger brother, Don. She was born as Rita Sahatçiu (pronounced [sahatˈtʃiu]; surname derived from the Turkish word, saatçi, which means “watchmaker”), but her parents later added Ora (which means “time” in Albanian) to the family surname so it could be easily pronounced.
Her family left Kosovo for political reasons, because of the persecution of Albanians initiated with the disintegration of Yugoslavia. They relocated to London, England in 1991, when she was a baby. She grew up in Notting Hill, in West London, and attended St Cuthbert with St Matthias Primary School in Earls Court, following which she graduated from a performing arts school, Sylvia Young Theatre School. She began singing at an early age.
Ora began performing at open mic sessions around London and, occasionally, in her father’s pub. In 2008, she auditioned for Eurovision: Your Country Needs You on BBC One to be the British contestant for the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 and qualified, but later withdrew from the competition after a few episodes as she “did not feel ready” and thought “that challenge wasn’t for her.”Her manager, Sarah Stennett (who also worked with Ellie Goulding, Jessie J and Conor Maynard), later told HitQuarters that Ora had entered the competition because at the time she felt it was her only chance at finding success. Stennett reassured her that performing in Eurovision would hinder rather than help her chances to make it as a solo artist.
Shortly after, Ora’s management got in touch with the American label, Roc Nation, and told them about her. Ora signed a recording deal and a publishing deal with Roc Nation in December 2008, and was one of their first signees. She made cameo appearances in Jay-Z’s video for “Young Forever” (2009) and Drake’s video, “Over” (2010). After being signed, Ora recorded an album and wanted to release it, but her label advised against it and she started to work on other material for her debut album.