Shonka Dukureh, who played Big Mama Thornton in the recent film Elvis, has died at the age of 44. She was found dead in her Nashville home. Per the Associated Press, via THR, no foul play is suspected.
The Fisk University graduate and Nashhville singer shared the apartment with her two young children. Police said that one of the children found her unresponsive and went to a neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor called 911 Thursday morning shortly after.
Aside from appearing in 'Elvis,' she also performed "Vegas," from the film's soundtrack, with Doja Cat at Coachella this year. She appeared in the "Vegas" video as well.
Shadow and Act interviewed her on the heels of Coachella in preparation for the film.
She continued, “I was very aware and wanting to really be intentional about making sure I was paying respect, respecting her, respecting her legacy, respecting her spirit, respecting everything about what she brought to music and understanding that I’m able to do it because she’s done it and laid that foundation."
The performer also told us what she was planning next.
“I am working on a blues record right now called Lady Sings the Blues, where I’m going to be paying tribute to the genre that laid the foundation for music that we’re hearing today,” she said. “I want to have that project ready by June for Black History Month. And I’m just so excited to be able to lend my voice to a genre that has given so much.”
Our thoughts are with all of Dukureh’s loved ones at this time.