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Rita Ora on London fire, paying for her tour and 'Boy Band'

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."



Chappelle to host Rihanna Diamond Ball; Kendrick to perform

Dave Chappelle will host Rihanna's annual charity event in September and Kendrick Lamar will perform.

The singer's organization, The Clara Lionel Foundation, will hold its third Diamond Ball on Sept. 14 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Rihanna said in a statement Tuesday she's "thrilled that the incomparable Dave Chappelle will kick things off as the official host" and said Lamar, whom she has collaborated with, "will take the stage for an unforgettable performance."

The Grammy-winning pop star founded The Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 in honor of her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. It promotes education and arts globally.

Past Diamond Ball participants include Brad Pitt, Kevin Hart and Lionel Richie.



Monterey Pop celebrates 50th with Eric Burdon, Norah Jones

The Monterey International Pop Festival turned 50 on Friday and celebrated its anniversary by kicking off another three-day concert that's bringing back a few acts from a half century ago.

Back in 1967, the Monterey festival was the centerpiece of the "Summer of Love." The June 16-18, 1967, event featured local San Francisco bands still in early stages of their careers, like the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane. And it introduced Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding and Ravi Shankar to an American audience.

Grammy-winning record producer Lou Adler, one of the original concert's organizers, came back to co-produce this year's event, which runs through Sunday. For him, being back at the Monterey County Fairgrounds was like traveling back in time but also a potent reminder that so much time has passed.

"It's emotional and, in a way, it brings back lots of memories," Adler said. "Not just memories of the music and the spirit, but of the people I worked with to bring about Monterey the first time who are no longer with us. So many good people no longer around, and that is one of the instant memories that comes to me."

"I'm feeling a lot of the same spirit and reverberations from the music," Adler added, drawing a parallel between the 1960s counterculture era and today's political divisions. "I think it's because the times we are in are similar to times we were in in 1967."

Ravi Shankar's daughter, Norah Jones, is among the two dozen performers signed up for the 50th anniversary concert. Three acts that played in 1967 will be back on stage this weekend, including Eric Burdon and the Animals, Booker T. Stax Revue and Phil Lesh.

One sign of changing times is the ticket price. The original prices ranged from $3 to $6.50. Tickets for this year's shows cost $105 per day, or $295 to $695 for a three-day VIP package.

Sarah Hayes of Carmel Valley, California, wasn't born when the first Monterey festival took place. But she didn't want to miss this one.

"I couldn't be here 50 years ago," said Hayes, 45, working as a greeter for the weekend festival, dressed in Sixties attire and holding a pink umbrella. "I heard there was going to be another Pop Festival, so here I am."

"The next few days I'm having fun, spreading love and unity," Hayes said.


Associated Press Writer Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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