Watch moment wrongfully imprisoned singer 'moved Elton John to tears' on America's Got Talent

27 May 2020, 13:28 | Updated: 27 May 2020, 14:28

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

A contestant on America's Got Talent has brought the judges - and Elton John - to tears.

Archie Williams, 59, performed a moving version of 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' in front of the judges, prompting Elton John to tweet his admiration.

The 73-year-old 'Rocketman' singer said he was moved to tears by the contestant's version of the song and compared his courage to that of Nelson Mandela.

Just moments before his performance on America's Got Talent, Archie Williams revealed to the judges that he had been released from prison after 36 years when DNA evidence proved his innocence.

77th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room
77th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room. Picture: Getty

"I was moved to tears when I heard Archie’s story and saw him perform 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me,'" Elton said in his tweet. 

Read more: The Story Of...'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' by Elton John

"The courage and forgiveness shown by him is truly inspiring. The same spirit that the world found so inspiring with Nelson Mandela."

'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' was a top ten hit for Elton John in 1974 and became a huge success in 1991 when he re-released it as a duet with George Michael.

After the performance Simon Cowell said: "I will never ever listen to the song in the same way after you. It took on a whole different meaning for me… this is an audition I would never forget for the rest of my life."

Read more: The 101 greatest songs of the 1970s, ranked

Archie Williams was wrongly imprisoned when he was just 22-years-old for raping and stabbing a white woman in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Archie Williams' performance moved the judges and audience to tears
Archie Williams' performance moved the judges and audience to tears. Picture: NBC
Archie Williams, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 36 years, receives a standing ovation after his performance
Archie Williams, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 36 years, receives a standing ovation after his performance. Picture: NBC

The victim wrongly identified him multiple times despite witnesses proving that Archie was asleep at home as the time of the attack.

Archie was convicted of attempted murder, aggravated rape and aggravated burglary and sentenced to life in prison without the option of parole. 

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'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 told AGT host, Terry Crews.

"Freedom is of the mind," he added. "I went to prison but I never let my mind go to prison."

Simon Cowell said he would 'never forget' Archie Williams' performance
Simon Cowell said he would 'never forget' Archie Williams' performance. Picture: NBC

Archie's America's Got Talent audition took place just months after he was freed from prison.

Thanks to the work of Innocence Project, who started working on his case in the 1990's and found DNA evidence to prove his innocence, Archie was released from prison in 2019.

The contestant said he had always wanted to audition for America's Got Talent and had kept his voice in shape by singing while incarcerated at Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana.

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