All-American girl places third in 'Arabs Got Talent'

Dec. 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM ET

Video: Jennifer Grout, the 23-year-old girl from Boston who barely speaks Arabic, fell just short of the top prize in the "Arabs Got Talent" competition.

Even though she didn’t understand the judge’s words when he asked her name, she did know the foreign words to the songs she sang.

American Jennifer Grout, 23, placed third in "Arabs Got Talent," the Middle East's reality TV contest.

The ultimate winner was Sima, a Syrian dance troupe. Though she didn't win, Grout wowed audiences with her talent at singing in Arabic and playing the oud, a complicated Middle Eastern instrument that looks a little like a guitar.

"When I want to learn a song, I hear a song that I like, and I look up the lyrics online or I have a friend write them for me," Grout told TODAY before taking the stage for the final time. 

Grout first learned how to sing Arabic music in college, and was studying in Morocco when she heard “Arabs Got Talent” was taking auditions. She went for it.

Video: An American singer is hitting a high note on one of the Middle East’s most popular reality TV shows.

Some remained skeptical of Grout's talents throughout the competition, saying that she is actually Arabic, pretending to be American.

Grout says she takes that rumor, while false, as a compliment.

“That is extremely flattering,” she said. “Of course, it's not true, I am American. I don't speak Arabic, at least not the dialects I sing in."