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Darci Monet talks about ‘The Rose’ — ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ 20th anniversary recording

Artist and singer Darci Monet chatted about her version of “The Rose” (“Napoleon Dynamite” 20th anniversary recording).

Darci Monet
Darci Monet. Photo Courtesy of Darci Monet
Darci Monet. Photo Courtesy of Darci Monet

Artist and singer Darci Monet chatted about her version of “The Rose” (“Napoleon Dynamite” 20th anniversary recording).

Monet shared her advice for young and aspiring musicians, and opened up about being a part of the digital age.

‘The Rose’ for the motion picture ‘Napoleon Dynamite’

On the idea to cover “The Rose,” she said, “Back in 2003, my friend John Swihart was the composer and music director for a little indie comedy film that was doing the festival circuit called ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ For whatever reason, the production couldn’t secure the license for Bette Midler’s original version of the song.”

“When that happens, that’s often when a session singer like me is called in by the production to do a cover,” she said.

“John called me and we recorded a 60-second clip for use in the ‘Happy Hands Club’ scene early in the film. I did it for $100, the SAG festival contract day rate for singers then (this was before AFTRA merged with them) and went on my merry way,” she elaborated.

“Neither of us expected to hear anything about it again. Little did we know, Fox Searchlight would purchase it at Sundance and the film blew up,” she said.

Monet noted that this little indie film ended up “grossing over $46 million worldwide.” “This was so exciting because it was gonna be the break I needed to get my SAG card,” she noted.

“From the money I’d make from the residuals, I would be able to finally pay the union joining fee (around $3300 at the time),  and begin my dream career as a consistently working session musician,” she said.

She continued, “Imagine my dismay when I went to the theater with friends to see my name scroll in the credits of a blockbuster film for the first time only for it to have been omitted entirely. Every other song licensed had the name of the performer listed except for ‘The Rose’.”

“Every high school student who walked by the camera had their name in the credits. But not Darci Monet, the singer of ‘The Rose’ in one of the most memorable scenes in the film,” she said.

“This situation was so painful and humiliating (because I believe it was purposeful in order to ride Bette’s name for promotion), that it really did a number on my mental health,” she said.

“I kind of let Darci the artist begin to wither on the vine from that point. I fell out of love with music and performing and turned my focus to voice coaching and mentoring other singers who had yet to become jaded,” she added.

Re-recording the song for the 20th anniversary of the film

“When I realized 2024 was the 20th anniversary of the film, with the encouragement of an amazing business coach, Jesse Koren with Thrive Academy, I finally decided it was time to change the narrative, get my credit and do so myself,” she said.

“So, with the help of my long time collaborator Levi Kreis and my brilliantly talented voice student Alan Macchiarolo and his band, we arranged and recorded a full length version of ‘The Rose’ as part of the 20th anniversary celebration and released it March 15,” she elaborated. 

Monet on finally receiving credit for the recording

Monet opened up about finally getting credit for the recording. “It feels somewhat bittersweet but it’s also been an incredibly healing and empowering journey,” she said.

“I’ve had so much love, support and cheerleading from my friends and family that I’m actually kind of stunned at how much people care about my story,” she noted.

“I did not expect that. And my inner artist is finally coming back to life, when I thought I’d long buried her. That is nothing short of a miracle to me,” she acknowledged.

Daily motivations as an artist

On her daily motivations as an artist, she said, “There was a time when the answer to this would be finding a way to pay the bills as a singer. But now it’s more being grateful to have a gift to share, especially since COVID and with everything going on in the world currently.”

“So many people are hurting and angry and feeling hopeless right now. Putting smiles on faces and giving people a little taste of hope really drives me. Music heals,” she added.

Future plans

On her future plans, she shared, “Continuing to work with my voice students, which I really enjoy, but also taking the time to keep making music.”

“I have plans for another cover song that I’ll begin working on soon with a musician friend in Nashville and I’m finally (hopefully) going to make good on my yearly threat to release a Christmas song, which is an original,” she said.

“I also hope to make a trip to Nashville in the fall to visit friends, host a vocal workshop and maybe even do a live performance or two. Mentoring, creating, performing…that’s the future for me,” she added.

Advice for young and aspiring artists

For young and aspiring artists, she said, “From the artistic perspective: Figure out who you are and stand strong in it. Do not try to be what you think the industry wants; do what feels organic to you and trust that your audience will find you (it will).”

“Confidence in who you are and the message you deliver is a quality that is undeniable in any business, but especially the artistic/creative ones,” she said.

She continued, “From a business perspective: Get on social media and get your music out there, whether you like it or not. It costs nothing and you could reach potentially millions of people with your artistic message.”

“It’s really a no-brainer and positions you with the power to negotiate better deals if you have culminated a large following all on your own,” she added.

The digital age

On being an artist in the digital age, she said, “I do have to say it’s been a very interesting ride. As a Gen-Xer, the MP3 was still very new when I started to record my first album back in the late 90s.”

I’ll never forget the first time someone in another country (Vietnam, I believe) listened to one of my songs that I had uploaded to a now-defunct music streaming site,” she said.

“My mind was blown,” she admitted. “Reaching anyone beyond your home town was an impossible dream for an unsigned artist until that point.” 

“Now, with social media, you don’t need a record label to reach people and you don’t need a record label to become a star,” she said.

“With dogged consistency, you can do it yourself. It can be time consuming and hard work, but it’s also fun. It’s truly an amazing time to be a musician, I think. There are so many opportunities that used to be limited only to artists with record deals now,” she elaborated.  

Dream duet choices in music

On her dream duet choices, she said, “Hands down, Ann Wilson of Heart. She is a vocal goddess, full stop, and has been my favorite singer since the first time I heard her belt out ‘Alone’ over the radio in high school.”

“When I told my mom about ‘this new band called Heart’ and begged her to get me the cassette tape, she laughed and then got her brother to send me his Heart albums from when he was in high school. I’ve been a fangirl ever since,” she said.

“My second dream duet would be Kelly Clarkson,” she admitted. “I remember watching her on American Idol and thinking, ‘Ten years ago, that would’ve been me.’ I’ve never met her (yet), but I’ve always felt a sisterhood with her vocally, musically and personality-wise. We’d break the internet, I think.”

“Also, Adam Lambert. That kid’s chops are absolutely insane when he’s going full-throttle, but he can also infuse such beauty and emotion into his voice when he’s not wailing. He can tell such a story with his voice. What a ginormous talent,” she added.

Success

Regarding her definition of the word success, she said, “If the way I lived my life and how I loved and treated other people leaves the world a little better than it was when I got here, I will consider that a success.”

Message for her fans about ‘The Rose’

For fans and listeners, she concluded about “The Rose,” “I want them to get hope out of this song. It’s never too late to be the person you always wanted to be, and the person you deserve to be.”

“The Rose” (“Napoleon Dynamite” 20th Anniversary Recording) is available on digital service providers by clicking here.

To learn more about Darci Monet, follow her on Instagram and visit her website.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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