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    RI’s Mat Franco wins ‘America’s Got Talent’

    From left: Howard Stern, winner Mat Franco, Melanie Brown, Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum at the “America's Got Talent" finale post-show red carpet on Sept. 17  in New York.
    Greg Allen/Invision/AP
    From left: Howard Stern, winner Mat Franco, Melanie Brown, Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum at the "America's Got Talent" finale post-show red carpet on Sept. 17 in New York.

    America’s Got Talent — but southern New England has the most.

    A win was in the cards for Johnston, R.I., native Mat Franco Wednesday night on the finale of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Johnston, a magician and 2010 University of Rhode Island graduate, took home a $1 million grand prize on the show’s season 9 finale.

    Boston’s Sons of Serendip came in fourth. The four Boston University alumni — vocalist Micah Christian, pianist and guitarist Cordaro Rodriguez, harpist Mason Morton, and cellist and vocalist Kendall Ramseur — formed only a few months ago to try out for the reality talent show.

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    “You now have a platform to do whatever you want. Millions of people have tuned in week in and week out” to support you, Spice Girl Mel B told the Sons after it announced they did not win.

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    “You have been amazing,” host Nick Cannon added.

    The competitors were eliminated one by one during the finale. Throughout the season, which began in May, the Sons of Seredip, a neo-soul and R&B fusion quartet, had been been a favorite of the celebrity judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Howard Stern and Mel B.

    They were selected among thousands of applicants who tried out at Madison Square Garden in March, and voted through to the Top 48 by the judges. The last few rounds had chosen by viewer votes.

    When the Sons performed “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane on Sept. 16 for their final performance, Stern said: “If you don’t win, I think it is an image problem. You have pure raw talent. Image-wise, you are not the ‘it thing.’ You are sort of retro. If you don’t win, that’s too bad because you have such talent.”

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    America’s Got Talent tweeted a video of the band last night with: “Let us tell you that @SonsOfSerendip are just as beautiful off stage as they are on! Well done, guys! #AGTFinale”

    The Sons of Serendip took their name from a 12th-century Persian tale, “The Three Princes of Serendip,” thought to be the source of the word “serendipity,” because of the serendipitous way in which they met at BU.

    According to Franco’s Web site, as a kid growing up in Johnston, “learning magic was always Mat’s top priority … Mat’s way of learning magic was by watching magicians on TV. He would videotape the shows and then study them for countless hours.” At age 12, Franco traveled to Las Vegas to study “learn from magic’s biggest names.”

    Before AGT, he won several awards from the magic community, by competing in statewide and national magic contests.

    Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com