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'I can't breathe': Jay-Z's protégée Rita Ora admits nerves at X Factor auditions

29 MAY 2012

She's still a relative newcomer herself, and Rita Ora admitted to be feeling the nerves when she joined the UK X Factor team in looking for a new star.

The 21-year-old, who has only one hit single under her belt, admitted she couldn't breathe before stepping up to the role of guest judge at the London auditions.

 

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She joined more experienced members of the panel – Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos, who won last year with her girl group Little Mix.

"I'm here… I can't breathe!" Rita wrote on Twitter.

"X Factor… I'm just like you, remember that. I've just started too, I'm here to help!"

Rita's star is on the rise. Having topped the UK charts this month with R.I.P, her duet with Tinie Tempah, she's currently opening stadiums for Coldplay, and will play T in the Park in July.

But her career could have taken a different road – the Kosovo-born starlet auditioned for the chance to represent Britain in the Eurovision song contest when she was 17.

"I didn't have a record deal, I wasn't signed and I got scared. I just wanted to do anything. Anyone can relate to me if they love something so much and will take any crack at making it somehow," she says.

The audition went well, but something didn't feel right, and she dropped out.

"I thought, 'I am a real musician and a songwriter, and if it is meant to be someone will see me'," she remembers.

It turned out to be the right decision. Weeks later she was signed to Jay-Z's label Roc nation, after an A&R spotted her gigging around London and introduced her to his people.

"I was flown out to New York and introduced to Jay-Z," she says. "The next day I got a record deal. It felt amazing and really refreshing to have such powerful people believing in me."

The hip hop guru has been guiding her career every step of the way. And his biggest advice? To take it slow and evolve as an artist.

"He told me to go and find myself and to wait for my window, that it was going to happen. I am so glad that I took his advice.

"I took things in my stride and made sure I took my time with everything. That's why it has taken me two and a half years to finish my debut album, which still isn't quite complete."

And Jay's wife Beyonce Knowles has been "great too", says Rita.

"She is such a great inspiration. She is one of my idols, so to have her physically in my face, being really helpful, is like a dream come true. It's a really nice feeling.

"Even people who have never met her or don’t know her can tell that she is one of the nicest people. She is one of the most genuine people I have ever met."

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