Elvis actor Shonka Dukureh dies one month after big screen debut

The 44-year-old singer, who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in Baz Luhrmann’s latest film, was found unresponsive in her Nashville home

The actor Shonka Dukureh, who recently made her big screen debut as Big Mama Thornton in Baz Luhrmann’s new film Elvis, had died at the age of 44.

Dukureh was found dead on Thursday in a bedroom at her home in Nashville, which she shared with her two young children, the Metro Nashville Police Department said.

One of the children found her unresponsive and went to the apartment of a neighbour, who called 911. Police said there were no signs of foul play. Autopsy results are pending from the medical examiner.

Dukureh portrayed the blues singer Big Mama Thornton in the Elvis Presley biopic, which was released around the world in June.

Dukureh’s performance of the song Hound Dog, which Thornton recorded in 1952, four years before Presley, went viral online after the film was released.

The actor and singer, who also shared the stage at Coachella this year with Doja Cat, had a theatre degree from Fisk University and an education degree from Trevecca Nazarene, radio station WPLN-FM reported.

In an interview with the station last month, Dukureh said she had previously worked as a second grade teacher and worked with inner-city youth through after-school and summer programs.

She said those students reached out after seeing her in Elvis.

Contributor

Sian Cain and Associated Press

The GuardianTramp

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