Elvis actor Shonka Dukureh dies aged 44 one month after big screen debut

22 July 2022, 07:01 | Updated: 22 July 2022, 07:28

Elvis film star Shonka Dukureh has died at the age of 44
Elvis film star Shonka Dukureh has died at the age of 44. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Elvis film star Shonka Dukureh has died at the age of 44.

The actress was found dead in her apartment by one of her young children who ran to a neighbour’s apartment and raised the alarm.

The Nashville Metropolitan Police Department confirmed there was no suspected foul play but added that the force is waiting autopsy results from the Davidson County Medical Examiner’s Office for an official cause of death.

Ms Dukureh is best known for her role as blues singer Big Mama Thornton in the new Elvis Presley biopic.

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

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She also rose to fame after she joined Doja Cat on stage to sing at Coachella earlier this year.

"My deepest condolences to the family of Shonka Dukureh. Shonka graduated from Fisk and called Nashville home for many years," Nashville mayor John Cooper said in a statement on Twitter.

"Her powerful voice and artistry will live on through her music, and we honour her memory on this sad day."

The singer had plans to record a new blues album after revealing that she was "on cloud nine" following the filming of the Elvis movie.

Fans have already begun to pay tribute to the star with one taking to social media to say: "Shonka Dukureh passing away is so heartbreaking."

Another added: "More than just a beautiful voice... she was a mom to two babies. Lord, please wrap her babies and loved ones in love and healing."

In an interview with the station last month, Dukureh said she taught year two pupils for a while and then worked with inner city youth through after-school and summer programmes.

She said those students reached out after seeing her in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic.

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