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Singer Shonka Dukureh, Who Played Big Mama Thornton In The Movie ‘Elvis’ Dead At 44



Shonka Dukureh who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in 'Elvis' movie has died at age 44. Image Source: Warner Bros

Every person on this planet is expected to leave this earth at some point in their lives. Nevertheless, dying prematurely is a result that is unfair to both the individual and society. Sadly, 44-year-old gospel singer and actor Shonka Dukureh, who played Big Mama Thornton in Baz Luhrmann’s critically acclaimed Elvis biopic, died on Thursday, July 21, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Likely, violent behavior was not present despite police claims to the contrary. However, an autopsy will be performed to pinpoint the cause of death.

Found by One of Her Children

A police news release stated that Dukureh was found dead in the bedroom of her Kothe Way apartment by one of her children. She shared this apartment with her two young children. When a family member, especially a child, finds the mother unconscious, it can be traumatizing for that particular family member. Such thoughts do not disappear overnight. In some cases, some people cannot move on with their lives.

After finding her, her child fled to a neighbor’s apartment, who called 911 for assistance.

The details concerning her children are scarce, but it is known that she has two children, a young girl, and her eldest son. Below is a clip from Shonka’s Instagram page, which shows her and her daughter discussing the Elvis movie and singing together.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Shonka Dukureh (@iamshonkadukureh)

The Singing Career of Shonka Dukureh was on the Rise

The multitalented woman was preparing for a big future. Aside from appearing in the Baz Luhrmann-directed film, she also collaborated with the rapper Doja Cat on the Elvis soundtrack track “Vegas.” Moreover, her website indicates that she was preparing an album entitled The Lady Sings the Blues, which was scheduled to be released in June 2022. Nevertheless, she has a collaborative album with Christopher Roberts entitled The Choir Project, which was released in 2020.

In an interview with ABC24 Memphis, Shonka discusses the origins of her singing career.

“My mother said I could sing before I could talk,” Dukureh said. “She said that I was humming music before I was uttering words.”


Shonka Dukureh. Image Source: Instagram / iamshonkadukureh

Her mother played a song while she and her friends sat around the tape deck. In response to the song’s popularity, Shonka’s mother continued to play it repeatedly. She eventually approached the radio and began to sing and hum along with the music. After hearing Shonka’s voice, her mother, along with her mother’s friends, decided to record her.

The gospel singer also participated in a choir as a high school student. Her chorus teacher believed her voice was outstanding and gave her voice lessons.

Written by Nikiya Biggs

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Experienced, dedicated, and goal-oriented writer with a flair for producing informative and captivating content. Experience spanning 5+ years in writing includes correct grammar, fact-checking, and adaptability. Throughout my life, I've been exposed to many opportunities. I have played the piano, participated in many recitals, and won numerous awards throughout my life. I have been honing my writing skills for years in my spare time. As an example, I have completed writing exercises and created my own stories in this regard.

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