Elvis actress Shonka Dukureh has died at the age of 44.
The shining star who made her debut in the Baz Luhrmann biopic was found by one of her children in her Nashville apartment.
Neighbours called 911 about 9.30am on July 21 and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police don’t suspect any foul play and are waiting on the autopsy to understand the cause of death.
Dukureh played Big Mama Thornton, a blues singer, in the new Elvis film.
When she got the role, she took it seriously explaining Big Mama Thornton was someone she could relate to.
“[Big Mama Thornton] was really raw with what she did and very honest and truthful and [made] music as she felt it. And I could totally relate to that,” she told The Tennessean.
“I was very aware and wanting to really be intentional about making sure I was paying respect, respecting her, respecting her legacy, respecting her spirit, respecting everything about what she brought to music and understanding that I’m able to do it because she’s done it and laid that foundation.”
Dukureh, a self-taught vocalist, also sang alongside Doja Cat as Big Mama Thornton in the single Vegas from the Elvis soundtrack.
“I know that she was a self-taught singer, like myself,” Dukureh said of Big Mama Thornton.
“I never took a formal class, just like her. She taught herself how to sing, she taught herself how to play the drums, harmonica, and she said things like, ‘I don’t know how to read music, but I know how to sing and I know what good music sounds like.’ And I can relate to all of it.”
Dukureh was also planning on releasing her first studio album The Lady Sings the Blues.
“The project 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,” she wrote on her website.
This article first appeared on OverSixty.