A wrongly incarcerated man is now enjoying his newfound freedom as he wowed judges with a soulful performance on America’s Got Talent.
Archie Williams, 59, had been convicted of rape 37 years ago even though forensic evidence against him was lacking, The Christian Post reports.
At merely 22 years of age, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at Angola state penitentiary in Louisiana, which is one of America’s deadliest prisons.
“Freedom is of the mind, I went to prison, but I never let my mind go to prison,” Williams told show host Terry Crews on Tuesday’s AGT broadcast.
As “a poor black” kid, Williams lacked the financial capacity to defend himself against the State of Louisiana.
Nevertheless, he asserted that music and his faith allowed him to persist through life’s storms.
“When you're faced with dark times, what I would do is I would pray and sing; this is how I got peace,” he said.
The singer was finally able to taste freedom in 2019 with the help from the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization that specializes in exonerating falsely convicted individuals.
In taking on Williams' case, the Innocence Project was able to exonerate him after finding DNA evidence through fingerprint analysis.
The results showed that Stephen Forbes was the true culprit. Forbes had multiple counts of sexual assault.
Following his story, Williams proceeded to sing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” by Elton John.
Tuesday’s episode featured a live audience as it was recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The audience was visibly moved during William’s extraordinary performance, including AGT judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara, and Heidi Klum.
In Cowell’s words to Williams, his performance is “the single most important” achievement in AGT’s history.
Elton John himself tweeted that he was “moved to tears” by William’s performance.
“The courage and forgiveness shown by him is truly inspiring,” John wrote on Tuesday. “The same spirit that the world found so inspiring with Nelson Mandela.”
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
According to People, Simon Cowell noted how most people do not realize that there are “thousands of innocent people in jails and prisons.”
Cowell then announced that he is honored to become an Ambassador for the Innocence Project
In order to help “more people like Archie.”
Photo courtesy: America's Got Talent
Video courtesy: America's Got Talent
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.