She played Big Mama Thorton in the movie Elvis
Blues singer and actress Shonka Dukureh was found dead at her home in Tennessee at age 44 on Thursday night. dukureh was at the beginning of his international fame, after having played Willie Mae Thornton, or “Big Mama”, in Elvis, new film by Baz Luhrmann starring Austin Butler.
The Nashville Police Department released a statement (via the Washington Post) saying the singer was found dead in her apartment, where she lived with her two young children. After one of the children found her, she ran to a neighbor, who then called 911.
Police said they believe Dukureh’s death occurred naturally and an autopsy was ordered to determine the exact cause of death. Since then, several tributes have been made to the actress.
On his instagram, Elvis director Baz Luhrmann wrote: “A special light has gone today”. He also said the film’s cast and production were “heartbroken” and shared photos of her on set.
In addition to being an actress, Shonka Dukureh was also a singer and had worked with Nick Cave, Mike Farris and Jamie Liddell, in addition to having achieved much more fame after appearing and singing alongside Doja Cat at Coachella later that year. She planned to release her debut studio album soon, titled “The Lady Sings the Blues”.