Archie Williams from Louisiana sang an emotional version of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by Elton John during the Auditions round on America’s Got Talent 2020 (Season 15).
The AGT judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and newcomer Sofia Vergara were visibly moved by Archie’s rendition. Heidi Klum didn’t hold back tears as Archie performed onstage.
Archie’s touching life story had everyone rooting for him. Wrongfully incarcerated for 37 years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (aka Angola Prison) for a crime he didn’t commit, Archie was freed in 2019 after DNA testing exonerated him. The fingerprints from the crime scene was run through the FBI database and in eight hours it matched the prints of a serial assailant.
Before Archie performed for the judges, host Terry Crews asked how he got through the 37 years. He replied, “Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison but I never let my mind go to prison.”
Archie formed a band while he was in prison. He said he got peace by praying and singing.
Prior to joining AGT, Williams joined the Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater. But he said he had always visualized being on America’s Got Talent, as he always watched the show while he was in prison. He said it’s his chance of a lifetime.
Archie’s heart-rending performance earned a standing ovation from the AGT judges and from the audience. He got 4 yes votes from the judges, a hug from Simon and a chant from the crowd. Archie happily advanced to the next round of the competition.
Season: 15 (AGT 2020)
Contestant: Archie Williams
Song: Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
Result: Got 4 Yes Votes, advanced to next round
Wrongly-Incarcerated Singer Archie Williams Delivers Unforgettable Song – America’s Got Talent 2020
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” was originally recorded in 1974 by Elton John for his studio album Caribou and was released as a single. It peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and reached number 16 on the UK Singles Chart. A live cover version recorded in 1991 as a duet between John and George Michael reached number one in the UK and US.
Heidi Klum said she does not cry for a whole lot of things, but Archie’s performance really did it to her. “That just went from you to me and I felt you and I’ve been thinking about you and your life. That was very powerful.”
Howie Mandel commented, “37 years. I can’t imagine they took a life away from you but if there’s anything that can be given to you, and I feel it right now, is the love that you are getting.” Howie was referring to the reaction of the live audience to Archie.
Sofia Vergara said, “Even though you did 37 years – 37 years that didn’t break you.” Sofia said she can picture Archie watching AGT and hoping, and now that he’s at AGT, “We love you,” Sofia concluded.
Simon Cowell said he will never listen to that song in the same way after Archie sang it. “It took on a whole different meaning for me and you’re a very, very courageous person.” Simon also said that Archie also has a really good voice and that he’ll never forget Archie’s audition for his whole life.
America’s Got Talent (AGT) Season 15 will broadcast in the United States beginning on May 26, 2020, on NBC. For this season, AGT judges are Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, returning Heidi Klum, and newcomer Sofia Vergara.
This season is most notable for its production being affected by the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which impacted audition sessions. The program initially moved to filming without an audience present at auditions, before ultimately suspending production. Auditions were later allowed to continue, but via online applications from those quarantined in their homes.
The production staff decided to push through with the broadcast as planned and premiere on May 26. Debate continues on how many episodes would be broadcast with the amount of material that had been recorded.
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