Shonka Dukureh, blues singer and actress, was discovered dead in her Nashville apartment on Thursday, according to the Metro Nashville Police Department.
Dukureh, 44, was discovered in the bedroom of the apartment she and her two kids shared, according to the police. In the recent film “Elvis,” the actress played Big Mama Thornton.
According to police, one of Dukureh’s kids discovered her unresponsive and sought assistance at a neighbor’s apartment. According to police, the neighbor dialed 911 at 9:27 am.
Police say there was no foul play involved in her death. According to an MNPD spokesperson, the medical examiner is currently working to determine the cause of death.
Dukureh just had a breakout role in Elvis biopic
Dukureh, who was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and now lived in Nashville, earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from Fisk University. She was also a Trevecca Nazarene University graduate with a master’s in education.
The performing artist took her first significant film role as Big Mama Thornton very seriously.
“Big Mama Thornton was really raw with what she did and very honest and truthful and made music as she felt it. And I could totally relate to that,” noted Dukureh in a recent interview.
“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.”
John Cooper, the mayor of Nashville, tweeted his condolences to Dukureh’s family. “Her powerful voice and artistry will live on through her music, and we honor her memory on this sad day,” Cooper wrote.