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Singer and ‘Elvis’ Actress Shonka Dukureh Found Dead in Her Nashville Apartment at 44


Gospel singer Shonka Dukureh, who made her acting debut in the Elvis biopic as Big Mama Thornton alongside Austin Butler, has died.

Dukureh was found dead in the bedroom of her Nashville apartment that she shared with her two young children, a news release from police stated.

One of the children found that Dukureh was unresponsive and ran to a neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor called 911 at 9:27 a.m.

She died at 44 years of age, one month after her big screen debut.

PEOPLE reported:

No foul play is suspected, according to the news release, though authorities are awaiting autopsy results from the Davidson County Medical Examiner’s Office for an official cause of death, Nashville Metropolitan PD tells PEOPLE.

“My deepest condolences to the family of Shonka Dukureh. Shonka graduated from Fisk and called Nashville home for many years,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said in a statement via Fox17. “Her powerful voice and artistry will live on through her music, and we honor her memory on this sad day.”

A celebrated gospel singer in the Nashville area, Dukureh’s career as an actress was just beginning. Though she had a passion for the arts, her first love was being a teacher, local Nashville news outlet WPLN reports. 

“I taught second grade for a little while over at Buena Vista Elementary in Metro Schools, and then did a lot of work with inner city youth doing after-school programing, summer programing — those programs that we need during the break so that kids can have a positive place to be,” Dukureh said.

Dukureh’s passing comes shortly after tragic reports of the death of 28-year-old stand-up comedian, writer and actor Jak Knight.

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