America’s Got Talent: Wrongly Jailed Singer Moves Simon Cowell (Video)

Pictured: Archie Williams — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Archie Williams was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. After 37 years, DNA tests set him free. And now, he’s auditioning for America’s Got Talent in front of Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara.

Archie becomes very emotional describing his unjust incarceration. He was a poor black kid and couldn’t fight the Louisiana justice system. None of the evidence matched, but the prosecutors wanted somebody to pay for the rape and murder of a white woman.

Archie explains to Terry Crews that he endured the ordeal because, while he went to prison, he not let his mind go to prison. During the dark times, he got peace by singing and praying. He watched America’s Got Talent, and  visualized himself singing on it. Finally, after years behind bars, the Innocence Project took his case. New DNA technology proved he didn’t commit a crime. 

After singing a very emotional rendition of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” the judges were visibly moved. “I will never ever listen to that song in the same way ever again after you sang it,” says Simon. “It took on a whole different meaning for me.”  He adds “This is an audition I will never forget for the whole of my life.”

The new season of America’s Got Talent premieres on NBC Tuesday May 26 at 8 pm ET/PT.

Watch Archie Williams’ emotional audition below. 


About mj santilli 33692 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!


  1. I wonder how many more people in jail (often but not always POC) are there because the prosecutors wanted someone to pay and didn’t care if the person was guilty or not.

  2. I recently took a college class on Modern African American History and the prison system. I highly recommend reading The New Jim Crow My professor would like this guy !

  3. How this man survived being wrongfully imprisoned for 37 years without being broken emotionally, IDK. He’s obviously a very strong person. Thankfully he was finally able to get back the freedom that was stolen from him.

    Not only that, that was a really beautiful performance of Elton John’s song. Very moving. Even without his backstory, I think he would have gotten 4 “yeses”

  4. I recently read John Grisham’s “The Guardians” which is fiction but based on a real group of lawyers similar to The Innocence Project. In the epilogue Grisham talks about the real group he modeled his book after. From a review of the book “The Guardians is thinly disguised as fiction. To date, 63 men and women owe their freedom to Centurion Ministries, a shocking number when you realize all these people were innocent and could so easily have ended their days on death row, labeled guilty.”

  5. I follow a number of people on Twitter who are working to free people who were railroaded and convicted for life or are on death row. Or who are guilty of minor crimes but sent to jail for ridiculously long terms. Mostly POC, of course. It’s heart-breaking when you see how the system works against them and either hid evidence or ignores new evidence.

  6. This is why the death penalty is so wrong. Our “justice” system is not infallible by any means. The Innocence Project should be getting massive funding but they don’t.

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