Actress from New ‘Elvis’ Movie Found Dead at Age 44

Shonka Dukureh, a singer and breakthrough actress in the recent film “Elvis,” died Thursday. She was 44. Police in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a news release Thursday that they found her body in her apartment’s bedroom. Dukureh had two young children. The cause of death was unknown, but Nashville police said there was no indication of foul play. This was the second celebrity death to hit Nashville this week. Nolan Neal, a musician who appeared on shows including “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice,” died Monday. Dukureh had her first big screen role in “Elvis” as Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, an R&B singer who first recorded “Hound Dog” before Elvis Presley made it popular. “Elvis” debuted on June 24. Dukureh sang Thornton’s “Hound Dog” in the movie and also appeared in Doja Cat’s “Vegas” music video. Doja Cat’s original song was on the “Elvis” soundtrack. Dukureh performed with Doja Cat at the Coachella festival in April. In an Instagram post last week, the singer-actress reflected on her time playing Thornton. “Gratefulness is where I live cuz my granny, gmama, momma, family modeled and instilled it in me,” Dukureh wrote. “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.” The post was made July 13, eight days before her death. Baz Luhrmann, the director of “Elvis,” shared kind words about Dukureh on Instagram that the film’s Twitter account reposted. “Whenever she was on set, on stage or even just in the room, everyone always felt uplifted. Shonka was just starting to find a larger audience for her tremendous talent, and I got to see her uplift whole crowds of people at Coachella and beyond,” Luhrmann wrote. “We send all our love and support to Shonka’s children and family at this time.” This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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