(CNN) — American Jennifer Grout fell just short of the top prize in the “Arabs Got Talent” competition after a remarkable run to the finals by a 23-year-old from Massachusetts who barely speaks Arabic.
Grout was among the final three contestants left standing on a Beirut stage Saturday night. She was eliminated only just before the end of the televised spectacle on the MBC network, when Syrian dance troup Sima was declared the winner.
Grout won over some shocked viewers in the Middle East earlier in the competition with renditions of classic Arab songs, rather than more Western-sounding music other contestants were performing.
The winning dancers incorporated Western moves in their performance.
Although some journalists in the Middle East had questioned the wisdom of allowing an American in the competition, audience members and even judges on Saturday night’s show praised her for calling attention to traditional songs.
After the ceremony, members of the audience and some contestants approached Grout to take photos and talk with her.
Grout has said she dived into Arabic music three years ago after discovering it online. She previously had studied classical music and opera.
By Mohammed Jamjoom
CNN’s Gul Tuysuz contributed reporting from Beirut; Deanna Hackney and David Simpson contributed from Atlanta.