(WAFB) - Archie Williams is getting another shot at the life he was denied over three decades ago.
In late 2019, Williams fulfilled his dream of performing at Amateur Night at the Apollo. The singer says he performed since the age of 12 and always envisioned himself on the Apollo stage.
Most recently, he appeared on a grander stage, on America’s Got Talent in a nationally televised performance.
“I always desired to be on a stage like this. And, now I’m here. Thank God,” said Williams.
It’s a dream deferred years ago, in 1983, when Williams was given a life sentence for a rape and stabbing in Baton Rouge that evidence shows he didn’t commit.
“I couldn’t believe it was really happening,” said Williams on America’s Got Talent. “I knew I was innocent, I didn’t commit a crime. But, being a poor black kid, I didn’t have the economic ability to fight the State of Louisiana.”
Williams is the longest client served by the Innocence Project, an organization that represents the wrongfully convicted around the nation.
The organization says it worked since 1995 to free Williams. It ultimately found success in 2019.
“Being innocent is a thing where you’ll never give up on yourself. You’ll always fight for your freedom. You know, no matter what,” Williams said in his first public statements on the steps of the courthouse. “I just fought for this moment. I never gave up. Because, [God] wouldn’t let me give up.”
Williams says it was his music and love of performing that kept him motivated to fight to prove his innocence.
“Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison but I never let my mind go to prison,” Williams said through tears in an interview with America’s Got Talent. “When you know you’re faced with dark times, what I would do is I would sing. This is how I got peace.”
Watch his full interview and performance of Elton John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me in the video below:
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