Shonka Dukureh, an actress and blues singer who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” biopic, died on Thursday in Tennessee, police confirmed. She was 44.
The musician was found dead inside her bedroom in the Nashville apartment she shared with her two children, according to a tweet by the Metro Nashville Police Department.
The Tennessean reported that one of Dukureh’s children found her unresponsive before rushing to a neighbor’s home, who then called 911 at approximately 9:30 a.m.
A spokesperson for the MNPD confirmed that the medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death. No foul play is suspected.
A rep for Dukureh did not immediately respond to Page Six’s request for comment.
The mom of two is best known for playing the iconic role of Big Mama Thornton in “Elvis,” which follows the life of the late Elvis Presley. The movie, which premiered on June 24, was Dukureh’s first and only movie credit, according to IMDB.
Dukureh proudly reflected on her role in the movie – and getting the opportunity to sing Presley’s hit song “Hound Dog” – via Instagram ahead of her death.
“Gratefulness is where I live cuz [sic] my granny, gmama, momma, family modeled and instilled it in me,” she wrote on July 13.
“It isn’t a posture of less than or crumbs scraping, but one that acknowledges good things aren’t a guarantee and when we encounter them thankfulness, gratefulness is the least we can express.”
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