Archie Williams' vocal talents and life story have made him a standout contestant and a favorite among many viewers

By Karen Mizoguchi
September 08, 2020 09:57 PM
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Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC

Archie Williams continues to wow the judges and fans at home.

On Tuesday, the singer sang Westlife's "Flying Without Wings" and dedicated the performance to his daughter, whom he met for the first time after being wrongly incarcerated. He said he learned about being her father while in prison.

"It's the most profound experience of my life," Williams said of reconnecting with loved ones after spending over three decades behind bars.

Judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara showered Williams with compliments. "It's a treat every time you come to the stage. You're the one performer that everybody asks me about," Vergara said as Mandel added: "Your imperfection is perfection."

For his audition, he blew everyone away with his rendition of Elton John's hit song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." And during the quarterfinals, he performed a moving cover of Steve Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today," receiving praise from guest judge Kelly Clarkson.

Williams' vocal talents and life story have made him a standout contestant and a favorite among many viewers. In 1983, Williams, who was 22 at the time, was convicted of aggravated rape and attempted murder in Louisiana. Fingerprint evidence did not match his own, and witnesses testified that he was at his own home the night of the incident. However, Williams was sentenced to life in prison at Louisiana State Penitentiary without the possibility of parole.

At the 12-year mark of his prison sentence, Williams reached out to the Innocence Project with a request for the organization to exonerate him. Thanks to years of their hard work and new fingerprint-matching technology, Williams' case was overturned due to the fingerprints found at the scene of the crime matching a serial rapist.

After being incarcerated for more than 36 years, Williams was released from prison in March 2019.

Along with Williams, the other acts for the first round of semifinals included aerialist Alan Silva, spoken word poet Brandon Leake, singing duo Broken Roots, singers/dancers Double Dragon, drummer Malik Dope, singer Roberta Battaglia, singer Shaquira McGrath, and diabolo duo Spyros Brothers.

The dance group Dance Town Family and singer Thomas Day were chosen as wild cards. (Wild card acts are those who were previously eliminated and now have second chances in the competition.)

Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC

Next week will be the last of two rounds, with 10 more acts competing at the Universal Studios Hollywood lots for a spot in the live finals. Season 15 will conclude on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, when a winner will be crowned during the scheduled finale.

As the end of the season nears, the show has yet to announce whether Simon Cowell will return to the judges' panel.

Cowell broke his back on Aug. 8 at his Malibu, California, home when he fell off an electric bike. Hours after the accident, he underwent surgery during which he had a "number of fusions and metal rod" put into his back, a source previously told PEOPLE.

During his month-long absence, he missed the entire four weeks of live quarterfinals.

Cowell's participation for the rest of season 15 has not been determined.

America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.