For many, Elvis Presley symbolizes the rock ‘n’ roll of the 50s and 60s, an era defined by his hip-shaking moves, gold-lamé jumpsuits, and trendsetting sideburns. But when Elvis impersonator Shonka Dukureh took the stage on Tuesday night, she likely had no idea that her performance would be her last. Dukureh collapsed during the show, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital—an occurrence that has left fans stunned and friends mourning what they say were natural causes.
The county medical examiner’s office reports that “Elvis” actress Shonka Dukureh, who was discovered dead in her Nashville, Tennessee, home last month, passed away from natural causes.
The official cause of death, according to a Davidson County Medical Examiner’s office representative, was “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”
When the force of the blood on the artery walls is excessive, it is known as hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, atherosclerosis is the thickening or hardening of the arteries brought on by a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of the arteries comprised of fatty substances and cholesterol.
Blues singer Dukureh passed away about a month after the summer hit “Elvis,” in which she played the lead part, was released. She portrayed Big Mama Thornton, and the song “Hound Dog” from the movie included her voice.
The Metro Nashville Police Department stated at the time that there was no indication of foul play when Dukureh’s body was discovered in the Kothe Way apartment she lived with her two small children on July 21. She was 44.
Mom youngster saw her unconscious in the bedroom and reportedly fled for assistance to a neighbor’s residence.
Dukureh resided in Nashville but was originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. According to her website, she studied theatre at Fisk University and earned a master’s degree in education from Trevecca Nazarene University.
In response to hearing of Dukureh’s passing, “Elvis” filmmaker Baz Luhrmann posted a homage to her on Instagram, saying: “A special light went out today and all of the Elvis movie family are devastated by the loss of Shonka Dukureh.”
“Everyone always felt uplifted whether she was on the set, on stage, or even just in the room. I saw Shonka inspire enormous audiences of people at Coachella and elsewhere when she was just starting to draw a broader following for her extraordinary skill, Luhrmann added. I, along with the rest of the Elvis cast, crew, and musical partners, consider it a true blessing to have met her.