BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — “It feels excellent,” said Archie Williams as he smiled from ear to ear.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native is a finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” He’s also a former inmate who was exonerated after being in prison for 37 years.
In the 1980s, Williams was freed after spending years in prison on allegations of rape and the stabbing of a woman. He was set to be behind bars for life before getting help from the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization. It was found that his fingerprints did not match the ones at the crime scene.
Since overcoming his battles, Williams has continued doing what he loves — singing.
“Faith just gave me another hand for 37 years,” Williams said. “I never let my mind go to prison. I always stayed focused and kept my mind on positivity.”
Williams started singing at age 7.
“If you don’t practice, that’s on you,” Williams said with a chuckle. “But I wake up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning practicing.”
During his time at Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, Williams served as a minister and sang with bands.
“When I went to Angola, I guess that was my mission, to go there and do God’s will,” he said. “That’s the way I see it.”
The singer says after the competition, he wants to return to the Baton Rouge community and help others who may be falsely accused.
“I want to help those guys that are in prison, that are innocent,” he said. “That’s really my mission, to help innocent prisoners.”
Williams will compete in the final round of “America’s Got Talent” on Sept. 22.
“Just stay tuned and give me y’all’s vote so we can win!” he said.