Utah's Bri Stauss talks winning 'Bachelor' spin-off show: 'I didn't think it was real'

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From her humble musical beginnings in Provo, Utah to winning ABC's "The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart," Bri Stauss only has one place to go: up. (Photo: Ivy Stauss // @missivydawn Instagram){ }

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — From her humble musical beginnings in Provo, Utah, to winning ABC's "The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart," Bri Stauss is rocking the music industry.

Some people think to make it [in the music industry] you have to be Taylor Swift," Stauss said. "But that's not true. As long as you're happy and making a person feel something, you're making it.

Stauss and her partner, Christopher Watson, won the first season of "The Bachelor" spin-off show where contestants not only looked for love, but competed in musical competitions to enhance their careers.

"I went in with an open heart and an open mind. I think that's why it worked for me," she said. "I had hope, but didn't think it was possible."

Stauss has loved music her entire life, but she didn't begin pursuing her passion until 2015.

"I've always wanted to pursue it, but never did," the 28-year-old singer said, adding that health issues and other restrictions forced her to put music on the back-burner. So, she taught herself guitar in high school and sang for fun. When she was 18, she moved to Utah for college.

After being in and out of school for a few years and attending Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University in an effort to obtain her Bachelor's degree in marriage and family therapy, Stauss said she wasn't happy.

School had always been her backup plan because music was her first passion.

I was unhappy for the longest time... I knew [music] was what I wanted," she said. "I didn’t allow myself to pursue music because I was in school... As I got older I finally said. 'You either want this or not.'

In 2015, Stauss said "enough is enough" and began to pursue her career--a decision she's never regretted.

Choose something and go for it.

In an effort to help launch her career, Stauss connected with a friend who was debuting his YouTube channel. He asked if she'd sing a Disney parody of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

Since it was uploaded in May 2015, the video on YouTube alone has garnered 68 million views and more than 160,000 streams on Spotify.

Stauss' first attempt at building a career was a success. So, she began networking, meeting people, writing and performing music and taking voice lessons.

Take things day-by-day and don’t freeze, go forward, don’t hold back," she said.

Last year, she got an opportunity that would change her life.

“I thought it was a joke," Stauss said after hearing of "The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart" auditions.

Having never watched ABC's "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette" before, Stauss just went for it – once she confirmed it was a legitimate opportunity.

"When opportunities come your way, you take them," she said.

As she stepped out of the limousine and was greeted by host Chris Harrison, it all started to sink in.

I was pretty terrified but in a controlled way," Stauss said. "I thought 'What's the worst that could happen?'

Not only did she not expect to win the entire competition, Stauss also didn't expect to find love. She describes her relationship with Chris as "genuine and real."

"Even though it was a controlled environment, and a reality TV show ... real life was taken away," Stauss said. "It’s not that we wouldn’t have worked in the real world, but I don’t think we would have met. I was in Utah and he was in L.A. There were no distractions on the show so you get to know them as if nothing else matters," including "the opinions of others."

On the final night of the season, Stauss and Watson gave it their all in their final performance of "Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan and "Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran. Then, Harrison announced them as the winners.

"It was the most incredible moment, " Stauss said. "I remember when Chris called our names ... it was like the movies when the noise is muted, then it gets really loud ... but it didn't actually hit me until I got home."

Despite the coronavirus pandemic stalling Stauss' plans to move to Los Angeles, go on tour with Watson and write and record their album in the same state, the couple continues to work hard, doing what they can to make the most of the situation.

"The show prepped us for this," she said. "Anyone could have won, but those challenges on the show helped us prepare for these ones."

Watson and Stauss, for the time being, are working on creating content for their YouTube channel and blog, and preparing for their first livestreamed performance from Los Angeles.

"In this industry, you have to be heard to be known ... I wasn't seeking fame, but the show opened up a lot of doors," Stauss said. "I proved that I achieved what I'm good at."