‘America’s Got Talent’: Archie Williams Receives Invite From Elton John to Join Him On Stage

America’s Got Talent returned with its season 15 premiere on May 26, with a new judge and a new lineup of contestants. One of them, Archie Williams, has an incredible backstory and that proves he is deserving of more than just a second chance.

Hardly a dry eye was in the house as he shared the details of what led him to the AGT stage. Williams performance even caught the attention of Elton John.

'America's Got Talent' contestant Archie Williams
‘America’s Got Talent’ contestant Archie Williams | Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

America’s Got Talent judges moved by Archie Williams

When it was Williams’ turn to audition for judges Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara, he was asked to share a bit about his background. Visibly emotional, Williams started with “I um…I was just incarcerated for 37 years for somebody else’s crime.”

Williams, who’s from Louisiana, went on to tell the story about how he was wrongfully imprisoned and DNA exonerated him. In January 1983, he was arrested for a rape and stabbing that occurred in December 1982 although he didn’t commit the crime.

Williams was sentenced to life plus 80 years without the possibility of parole. The Innocence Project intervened on his behalf after he wrote to them in 1995, and it took more than 20 years for the conviction to be overturned. Fingerprint evidence finally freed him in 2019.

The judges’ panel was blown away by Williams story and his rendition of Elton John’s song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Cowell said he’ll never be able to hear the song the same way again.

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Elton John extends invitation to Williams

Williams recently sat down with Access Hollywood to talk about his journey and why he chose John’s song for the competition.

He was given a list and that particular tune wasn’t on it, but it’s one that he knew and said it reminded him of his life. Williams told host Scott Evans he’s an Elton John fan and casually said the singer called him the other day.

“He gave me an invitation to perform at his show when he comes back to the United States.” Williams added the rocker told him out of all the people that ever sang that song, he’s the first to give it true meaning—even for him. He said John cried as they spoke. Williams graciously accepted the invite.

Williams inspires Simon Cowell to join Innocence Project

During the audition, Cowell was awestruck by Williams’ experience and resilience, and it touched him so much that he wants to work with the Innocence Project.

The organization announced that Cowell signed on as an ambassador and wants to help champion their cause. He said because of Williams, his eyes have been opened and so have those of his friends and family.

While speaking with the group’s co-founder Barry Scheck, Cowell teared up. He said:

Archie’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. For them to have stuck with Archie’s case for over 20 years is remarkable. This has really opened my eyes, my family’s eyes, and my friend’s eyes to this. So, I hope some good will come from this.

Keep watching America’s Got Talent each Tuesday on NBC at 8 p.m. EST.

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