Shonka Dukureh: Who was she? How did she die? | ICIN

About Shonka Dukureh death

Shonka Dukureh, who played blues singer Big Mama Thornton in the Elvis picture, was discovered dead in her Nashville, Tennessee, home. The 44-year-old woman was discovered unresponsive in her residence by one of her two young children, according to a statement released by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

An autopsy is still not performed to determine the cause of death, but police say no foul play is suspected. The mayor of Nashville, John Cooper, expressed his condolences to Dukureh’s family via Twitter, noting that she had attended Fisk University in the place she had called home for many years.

The actor, who performed alongside Doja Cat at Coachella this year, has a degree in theatre.  Trevecca Nazarene University is where she earned her master’s degree in education, according to WPLN-FM.

After working with inner city youngsters in after-school and summer programmes, Dukureh told the station in an interview last month that she had previously taught second graders. She believes those students contacted her because they saw her in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic.

Luhrmann giving tribute to Shonka Dukureh on Instagram

As he posted photos of the set of Elvis on Instagram, Luhrmann wrote, “a special light went out today.” One of the photos showed him kissing Dukureh on the forehead.

He added, “Everyone involved with the Elvis film is devastated by Shonka Dukureh’s passing.  Shonka has been a source of happiness, energy, and, of course, music ever since she was born. As soon as she walked onto the set, onto the stage, or even into the room, the mood was instantly raised.”

“I was fortunate enough to witness Shonka’s uplifting of large audiences of people at festivals like Coachella and elsewhere as she was just beginning to acquire a broader following for her wonderful talent,” he further added. “A word Shonka used frequently was “blessings,” and I and the rest of the Elvis cast, crew, and musical partners are grateful for the opportunity to have known her.”

Shonka Dukureh


The 59-year-old actress went on to say that her family and friends have the “love and support” of the Elvis cast and crew.

As Elvis Presley, Dukureh co-starred with Austin Butler, while Tom Hanks played Colonel Tom Parker in the 2022 film. According to Variety, Elvis was Dukureh, a North Carolina native, first major film role.

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