Riding a recent wave of hits like “For You” featuring Liam Payne from the upcoming Fifty Shades Freed film and “Anywhere,” 27-year-old Rita Ora has released “PROUD,” an emotional track inspired by real-life stories from fans. A partnership with Absolut’s Open Mic Project, the song encourages acceptance in today’s world regardless of background, belief or border. “There’s no way to get into someone’s home quicker than with music,” Ora says.
After soliciting hundreds of stories about the struggle for acceptance from fans, Ora incorporated the most inspiring ones into “PROUD.” Out of all the stories, there was one that stood out the most to her. “One particular fan took it upon himself to make sure people were being lifted up by allowing others to feel really proud of themselves and who they are,” she says. “He ended his letter with a really important message which was, ‘Helping one person won’t change the world but it could change the world of one person.’ That always stuck with me because it was so sweet and so endearing at the same time.”
Although working with the Open Mic Project made the writing process for “PROUD” meaningful and unique, Ora admits it also brought some added pressure. “These are other people’s stories so, excuse the pun but, I wanted to make everyone proud,” she says. “It’s not [my] personal story, so I definitely felt more pressure to deliver it well.”
While incorporating her fans’ stories was a huge part of this song, Ora mined from her own experience as well. She explains that she felt the struggle for society’s acceptance after immigrating from Kosovo to London, and that more recently, she struggled to find acceptance for her music. “It’s been a bloody challenge,” she says. “Between being a female in this industry and fighting to be in the right deal in order to put out music that I love, I just want to feel accepted with what my vision is. In 2018 I think I finally set up the right way to do what I love and I’ve never been in a better place.”
With a tour starting in March and her first album in five years on the horizon, fans are eager to hear from a more confident and powerful Ora. Listen to “PROUD” below.