Shonka Dukureh, 44, who played Big Mama Thornton in Elvis, died on July 21, 2022.
The Metro Nashville Police Department tweeted out details the same day saying “No foul play is evident in today’s death of actress Shonka Dukureh, 44, who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in this year’s Elvis movie,” they tweeted. “Dukureh, a Fisk Univ graduate, was found dead in the bedroom of her Kothe Way apt that she shared with her 2 young children.” A cause of death is still pending. Here’s what to know about the talented actress who tragically lost her life today.
She’s a mother of two.
Shonka was a mother of two and very little is known about her kids, but she did take to Instagram on March 16 to share that she has a son who loves music. she once shared a video with a masked young boy, who was jamming on a turntable.
She only has one major film role.
Shonka’s high profile role as R&B singer and songwriter Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton would prove to be her first and only major acting role. Aside from working with director Baz, she also appeared in her breakout role alongside Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, and Olivia DeJonge, among others.
She was a gospel singer.
The multitalented woman was also known as a gospel singer. Shonka reportedly had an album in the works, according to her official website. She was inspired by her role in Elvis, the site said, and the album “is a tribute to the blues music genre in celebration of those fierce unsung pioneering artists and musicians who paved the way for the rock’n roll music revolution.”
Her voice is featured on the movie’s soundtrack.
Shonka’s voice can be heard on the Elvis film soundtrack as she sang Hound Dog. She recorded the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller hit back in 1952 years before Elvis would further popularize it in 1956.
She has a graduate degree.
The Tennessean reports that Shonka was highly educated, as well as highly accomplished. The actress reportedly received a bachelor’s degree from Nashville’s Fisk University in theatre. She additionally earned a master’s degree in education from Trevecca Nazarene University.