On March 21st, Archie Williams managed to escape a nightmare that lasted 37 years for a crime that he didn’t commit. Archie was incarcerated for more than 10 years in maximum security prison Louisiana State Penitentiary, one of the bloodiest prisons of the US, before the Innocence Project took up his case. He used to visualize himself on the show while watching it in prison and music became his way of life.
Archie was wrongly accused of raping and stabbing a 30-year-old white woman at her home in Baton Rouge in Lousiana, even if his fingerprints were found nowhere. Eventually, he had no ways to oppose the state of Lousiana and he had to be incarcerated.
“I knew I was innocent, I didn’t commit a crime. But being a poor black kid, I didn’t have the ability to fight the state of Louisiana,” he said during the show America’s Got Talent.
The Innocence Project manage to help Archie and after 24 years, a new analysis of fingerprints found that the crime was committed by a serial rapist. Then a DNA test proved Williams’ innocence. After 7 days, Archie was released from jail.
The performance at America’s Got Talent
Archie found solace in music while he was in prison, and he had the opportunity to perform at well-known America’s Got Talent. Williams sang Elton John’s song “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.”
The fans and the jury was moved especially when Archie sang the part of the song saying, “I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free, ’cause losing everything is like the sun going down on me.” That line was extremely poignant for his rendition.
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The face of the show, Simon Cowell, said that he would never forget that performance in all his life.
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While his voice is extraordinary, unfortunately his experience of being sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit is more common than people realize. I’m honored to become an Ambassador for the @innocenceproject and want to do what I can to help more people like Archie. @archiewilliamsofficial's story is one of courage and hope – and I hope that by knowing more about his story and the Innocence Project, it will encourage more people to support the incredible work they do. These guys don’t just talk; they actually do something about it. The Innocence Project doesn’t just change people’s lives, they save people’s lives.
Elton John tweeted that he was moved to tears looking at this song and he compared Williams’ spirit to Mandela’s.
“I was moved to tears when I heard Archie’s story and saw him perform “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me”. The courage and forgiveness shown by him is truly inspiring. The same spirit that the world found so inspiring with Nelson Mandela. Love, E xx,” said Elton John.
I was moved to tears when I heard Archie’s story and saw him perform "Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me". The courage and forgiveness shown by him is truly inspiring. The same spirit that the world found so inspiring with Nelson Mandela. Love, E xx https://t.co/oYxM3IyvWB
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) May 26, 2020