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Shonka Dukureh, one of the stars of the new Elvis film, has died aged 44.
The recently acclaimed actress was found dead in her apartment by one of her young children, just after recently drawing plaudits for her role as blues singer Big Mama Thornton in the Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic.
TMZ reported she was found dead in the bedroom of her apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday. (21.07.22)
The child is said by the Metro Nashville Police Department to have ran to get help from a neighbour, who called 911 around 9.30am local time.
Investigators are currently waiting for autopsy results to determine her cause of death but no foul play is suspected by police.
Shonka was also known to Doja Cat fans after she appeared as Big Mama Thornton in the singer’s music video for the soundtrack song ‘Vegas’.
She also joined Doja, 26, on stage earlier this year to sing the tune at Coachella.
Big Mama Thornton had a huge impact on the young Elvis, who made her song ‘Hound Dog’ world famous with his 1956 cover.
Shonka was renowned as a gospel singer in her hometown of Nashville before acting, and taught local kids.
Her role in ‘Elvis’ was initially set to be off screen, but she was later asked to appear in front of the camera.
She said about the role: “I knew to really pay tribute to her, I had to tap into myself, my own self-confidence, my own voice.
“Big Mama Thornton was very adamant that she only had her voice – no one could sing like her and she sang like no one. So I had to also embrace that as our approach to music."
She last month added she felt like she was “on cloud nine” amid acclaim for ‘Elvis’.