Rita Ora Talks New Song 'Proud' & Taking Pride in Her 'Roller Coaster' Journey to Releasing U.S. Debut

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Absolut
Rita Ora and Absolut Open Mic Project inspire acceptance through music at exclusive performance during 2017 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour at iHeartRadio Theater on Dec. 6, 2017 in New York City. 

The British singer's latest track is part of a fan-fueled confidence campaign called "The Open Mic Project."

With a Fifty Shades Freed collaboration with Liam Payne making its way up the Billboard Hot 100, a sold-out spring tour in her home country, and her first globally released album coming later this year, Rita Ora has a lot to be proud of as 2018 kicks off. But first, she’s helping her fans take pride in themselves with a new campaign and a new song.

Ora is the face of Absolut’s recently launched The Open Mic Project, which looks to “unite the voices of change-makers and fearless fans” by advocating open conversation through stories of acceptance. The fan-submitted stories are archived on the project’s official website, but are also now exemplified in Ora’s latest song, “Proud.”

“I felt like it was an obvious but amazing word,” Ora tells Billboard of the song’s simple title. “I definitely got inspired by every single person’s story, and I tried to blend it together -- the journey and the struggle of [getting] the win at the end.”

While Ora technically created the cheery anthem for the campaign, “Proud” is as relevant to her as it is to those who submitted stories. “It’s important to me because of my background and how much I [had] to fight to get to even this point in my life,” she says. “Also, just as a little girl growing up in Kosovo and refugeeing from Kosovo to the U.K. and starting a new life with incredible schools, having the chance to have my dreams come true thanks to my parents. It ends up being about everything -- the industry, being a woman right now, having the ability to speak out and be heard.”

The “Your Song” singer calls her career so far “such an amazing kind of roller coaster ride,” between being accepted by the music and fashion communities but then facing contractual issues that presented a bit of a roadblock for her musical output. But with a full-length global debut readied for sometime this spring, Ora hopes that her own story inspires fans to feel proud of getting where they are.

“I’d like to think I inspire people to see that I’m an example of ‘You really can’t knock a person down,’” she says boldly.

Along with her own perseverance, Ora shouts out her fellow female artists for having her back throughout her journey: “Katy Perry and Miley [Cyrus], they’ve been so amazing and I think it just really helped me build my confidence and help me believe in what I was doing.”

She also sends love to her supportive fans, thanking them for being “so patient” with her unexpected delay in releasing an international album. As she prepares for a big year herself, Ora hopes that “Proud” is the start of her fans -- and herself -- getting the credit they deserve.

“I love the little bit of confidence and cockiness you get [with 'Proud' lines like], ‘Go ahead, beautiful, you’re looking so good/ So good, finger to the haters like you love them so good,” she says. “I can’t wait for people to put up their middle fingers while they listen to this song like, ‘Yeah!’”

Listen to "Proud" below.