The 21-year-old British singer is one of the many artists signed to Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation record label, and is making waves with her catchy tunes “Hot Right Now,” and “How We Do (Party).”
Celebuzz had a chance to catch up with Rita, and talked to her about what it’s like working with Jay, her music inspirations, and much more!
Tell me a little about how you realized that singing was what you wanted to do?
First I kind of realized that I wanted to be a singer. I always loved to sing when I was 6. But the first time I realized I really wanted to sing was when I was 14 and I made a reaction. I did this choir thing, I think I was younger than that but I caused a reaction from someone and I really liked that feeling, it made me feel like I could change someone’s emotions for like a few minutes so when I heard it and I saw their faces I thought this is actually really good. To make someone feel good for like a second, was a good feeling. I caused a reaction when I was younger so it was like “I like that feeling”, it made me feel good and I like singing. It was such a really great way to make myself feel good, the fact that I could do that to other people just made me want to do it even more. When I was 14 I got this production deal and I just was writing to myself after school and night. That’s when I really realized I want to do this my whole life.
You say that you evoked emotions when you were 14 to others, who were some singers or artists that did that for you when you were younger or do that now?
Oh I have so many that I love. I loved listening to Mariah Carey when I was younger and Whitney Houston and I also loved listening, for some reason I loved Celine Dion’s voice. I really do, I loved her voice and the fact that she was cool and I liked listening to her. My dad actually liked listening to her, which means I would always be hearing her in the house. So I kind of grew up listening to her and as I got older, when I started to understand music properly and not just enjoy the feeling, I really really admired people like Bruce Springsteen where I could understand what he was saying, Duran Duran. Then I have my soul singers who I love like Angie Stone, Jill Scott, India Arie, Destiny’s Child. I think that when I understood music I listened to a lot of the lyrics like David Bowie and things like that. I really admired their sense of style and their send of individuality.
So you work a lot with Jay Z, how did that come about?
When I was 18 years old, this AR new about me in the U.K. Jay Brown…she just gave him a call and said “I’ve got this girl who I think you’d really be interested in” and I think they had just started Rock Nation, I sent him over some stuff that was on my laptop and then a few days later he called me up and was like have you ever been to New York I would love to see you. I was like “what?!” I couldn’t believe it. He booked me a ticket the next day and I went to New York City for the first time. Then I met Jay and I met the team and the next day I felt like it was meant to be because it was the right time and I had my record deals before but I never took them. My mom and my sister were always like, “keep your options open for now, you’re young, just wait a minute” and I did and thank God I waited.
What was it like meeting Jay Z for the first time?
When I first met Jay I was 150 million percent star-strucked because you know its Jay. He’s been doing this for ages, he’s been in the game and he’s been at the top of his game for ages. And when I first saw him I was like ‘Oh my God’ I was so happy but kind of kept my composure, I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I was like ‘nice to meet you’ and then after that I went to the studio and played some songs and it was great and it all made sense. I got a deal the next few days.
Has he given you any good advice?
He’s given me great advice, he’s a great boss. He told me to be patient, just be patient.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
There’s so many things that I want to accomplish as an artist and as a human being, I don’t really have any boundaries. I would really like to be at the Grammys and win a Grammy. I would love to have my album out and be a musician for the rest of my life. I want to be an artist and have my music help people out, that is what I want.
You told us about meeting Jay Z, but is there anyone else you’ve met that you’ve gotten star struck by or someone memorable?
Being a part of such a huge machine, you get to work with people who are so great at what they do that I was so honored to work with. For example, who’s such a great song writer, who wrote on my record. When I first met Bono from U2, where I nearly fainted, it is was so, and he was wearing his glasses! And I was like ‘Bono wears his glasses in real life!’ that was really cool. And when I met Coldplay and Chris Martin, all these amazing artists, I was so happy to listen to them and learn from then and just watch them do what they do best and take in as much as I could.
Is there any music on your iPod that people might be surprised you have?
Oh, yeah there is. You’d be surprised to hear that I like listening to Rick Ross.
Any guilty pleasures?
Yeah but I don’t know if you know about this band, but there’s this dude who’s huge in Europe and the name is Steps. They have this new album coming out that has all their greatest hits.