‘Elvis’ actress found dead in Nashville apartment

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 3:29 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - An actress was found dead Wednesday, according to Metro Police.

Authorities said 44-year-old Shonka Dukureh, who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in the 2022 Elvis movie, was found dead in her Kothe Way apartment that she shared with her two young children.

Dukureh was reportedly found by one of her kids unresponsive and ran to a neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor then called 911 at 9:27 a.m.

Police said her death is currently unclassified pending autopsy results from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Dukureh is known for performing at Coachella with Doja Cat, the hit song ‘Vegas.’

We talked with Metro Councilwoman Zulfat Suara about Dukureh and how she planned to perform a few songs after the John Lewis Way March scheduled for Saturday.

“When I got to talk to her, she’s one of the kindest, nicest people,” said Suara.

Suara recently met Dukureh after hearing her on WFSK-FM, and she fell in love with her story.

“My heart goes to her children and her family...Yea, it’s still a shock. Life is too short,” said Suara.

“Here’s somebody who was so kind and wanted to give back to their community. This is someone who’s been working in the business for so long, is now getting the notoriety, is now in a movie, and for that to just happen was just very sad,” said Suara.

Dukureh was slated to perform a few songs in just two days here in Nashville as an actress, playwright, author, and vocal powerhouse.

Now they’re planning to do a tribute in her honor after the march.

“I thought it would be wrong for us not to say or do something. And so, I spoke with the committee, and we decided on the stage that she was supposed to perform at and for people to still listen to her; fortunately, we want that stage to be where we will remember her remember Shonka, the person, and her craft and her music,” said Suara.

Shonka Dukureh is from Charlotte, NC, and currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She attended Fisk University, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Theatre and her master’s degree in Education from Trevecca Nazarene University. According to her online biography, she had plans to become a teacher but became a performing artist.

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