ZOUK MOSBEH, Lebanon - Young American Jennifer Grout doesn't speak a word of Arabic, but has taught herself to sing the Arab world's best-known, most difficult songs, and could even win its major music competition.
Her blonde hair loose and without a sign of make-up, the 23-year-old appeared before a panel of judges to audition for the Arabs Got Talent show.
When Egyptian film star and panel member Ahmed Helmy asked her in Arabic what her what her name was, she didn't have a clue what he was saying.
But then she began to play the oud and sing a classic by Egyptian diva Umm Kalthoum, "Baeed Annak" (Far from you).
She stunned the audience, enunciating every word to perfection as her voice effortlessly navigated the quarter-notes that make Arabic music so distinctive.
Grout, who grew up in a musical home in Boston, Massachusetts and has studied piano and violin since the age of five, only discovered her passion for Arabic music three years ago.
As a 20-year-old student in Boston, Grout says she "came across an online article about Fairouz," whose unique, angelic voice rings out on radio stations across the Arab world every morning.
"I listened to her and watched a video of her, and I was just really intrigued and mesmerised by her voice. So I decided to start exploring Arabic music more," Grout told AFP.