The Best Reactions to Exoneree Archie Williams’ Powerful ‘America’s Got Talent’ Audition

Even Sir Elton John, whose song Williams sang, had something to say about the performance.

05.28.20 By Innocence Staff

Archie Williams after auditioning for season 15 of

Archie Williams after auditioning for season 15 of "America's Got Talent." (Image: Trae Patton/NBC)

“As the years go by I sit here year after year, it’s like no one cares … People let you down and give up on you,” Archie Williams wrote to the Innocence Project from a Louisiana prison in 1995.

Twenty-five years later, Williams, finally free, found himself singing the words, “Don’t let the sun go down on me,” on the stage of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” show. Contrary to the lyrics, the sun isn’t setting on Williams; in fact, he’s begun a new life.

When Williams sent the letter, he was 12 years into a life sentence with no possibility of parole for a crime he didn’t commit. For more than two decades, the Innocence Project fought to prove that Williams had been wrongfully convicted of a rape and attempted murder that occurred in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — and in 2019, he was exonerated by fingerprint evidence.

Through 36 years of wrongful conviction, Williams said music kept his spirits lifted and his hope alive. Though it’s only been a year since Williams was exonerated and released, he’s wasted no time chasing his long delayed dreams of singing. He has not only successfully auditioned for “America’s Got Talent,” but has also realized his dream of performing at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, making it to the semi-finals of the theater’s legendary amateur night last November.

Support Archie as he rebuilds his life and pursues his dreams after 36 years of wrongful conviction.

Williams’ beautiful rendition of Elton John’s hit “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” brought the judges and the audience at the show’s live taping to its feet. Even Elton John was moved by the performance, and personally reached out to Williams after seeing his audition online.

“He called me personally,” Williams told People. “He gave me an invitation to sing on his show when he comes back to the United States. It was definitely a surprise!”

Williams’ performance, which aired on May 26, has now touched thousands of people around the world who have shared its impact on them online — these are just some of our favorite reactions to Williams’ inspiring audition.


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Bebe S. June 19, 2020 at 3:07 am Reply   

Archie Williams definitely has what it takes to win AGT in 2020. I love his voice. As a teenager, I listened to a lot of soul music. Archie reminds me of a mix of Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder. I pray for you to go all the way, and that healing will come to you in many blessings for the years stolen from you while you were wrongfully incarcerated. God speed! Thank you for sharing your amazing talent and your story.

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