NEW YORK (AP) — For British singer Rita Ora, this week is both emotional and exciting.
Ora is one of the 50 artists singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a charity music single to help the victims of the fire at Grenfell Tower that killed at least 79 people last week. The song was released Wednesday, just a day before Ora’s new show, “Boy Band,” premieres and she drops the video for her new single, “Your Song,” co-written by Ed Sheeran.
The 26-year-old, who is from London and grew up near Grenfell Tower, said she cried while recording her vocals for the song.
“It’s an amazing thing that we’re doing because it’s a very touchy subject for me because that’s my neighborhood … you know, I played in that block and my friends who grew up in that block who still lived in that block that we still can’t find — it’s a tragedy,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “It was hard for me to even sing it.”
The song is produced by Simon Cowell and includes vocals by Robbie Williams, Jessie J and Liam Payne.
Ora’s week will get busier with Thursday’s video release of “Your Song,” her debut single on Atlantic Records (a full album, her first in America, is planned for the fall). Her 2012 debut album, “Ora,” was a success internationally but it did not get a U.S. release. Despite that, she toured U.S. cities but had to pay for it herself.
“My team at the time thought it wasn’t a good idea and it would be a waste of time. I thought differently because my online presence grew really dramatically … And so the team … they’re like, ‘Well we’re not helping you, we can’t do it. We’re not going to put money into it.’ I said, ‘Well fine! I’ll put my own money into it.’ And so I did,” said Ora, who was previously signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation and Columbia Records.
“And I phoned up Iggy (Azalea) … she came on the road. It was so, like, small tour bus. I think we, at one point, shared one microphone. …And you know what, every single show was sold out.”
Ora said she will tour properly when her album — expected to feature 2 Chainz, Charli XCX, production duo Stargate and hit songwriter Julia Michaels — drops in November.
In between music, the fashion-forward entertainer has been flexing her hosting chops. After hosting “America’s Next Top Model” last year, she will host the new show “Boy Band,” which debuts Thursday on ABC at 8 p.m. EDT. The show also features mega-producer Timbaland, Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls’ Emma Bunton.
“I think hosting is one of the funnest things I’ve done so far … I love talking and you really kind of communicate with the viewers at home, which is my fav,” said Ora, who has also appeared on the U.K. versions of “The Voice” and “The X Factor.”
“(‘Boy Band’ is) a good gig ’cause I don’t have to be the one to deliver the bad news.”