Shonka Dukureh in the music video for Doja Cat's Vegas.

Shonka Dukureh in the music video for Doja Cat’s Vegas.

Actor and musician Shonka Dukureh has died. She was 44.

Dukureh, who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in Baz Luhrmann’s new film Elvis, was found dead in her Nashville apartment on Thursday, 21 July, according to a tweet from Nashville police.

According to MEDIA, Dukureh’s role as Thornton, an R&B singer who was the first artist to record the song Hound Dog, later made famous by Elvis Presley, was her first major film appearance.

Reflecting on her Elvis role in a recent interview she shared on Instagram, Dukureh wrote: “Gratefulness is where I live cuz my granny, gmama, momma, family modeled and instilled it in me. It isn’t a posture of less than or crumbs scraping, but one that acknowledges good things aren’t a guarantee and when we encounter them thankfulness, gratefulness is the least we can express [sic].”