Shunka Ducoure, who made her Hollywood debut as famous blues singer Big Mama Thornton in the new Baz Luhrmann movie, “Elvis” was found dead Thursday in Nashville. She was 44 years old.
The Nashville Metropolitan Police Department confirmed the death but did not give a cause, saying only that there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Police said one of Ms. Dkoure’s two children found her unresponsive in her bedroom Thursday morning and ran to alert a neighbor who called 911.
“Elvis,” Mr. Luhrmann’s long-awaited film about the life of Elvis Presley, with Austin Butler in the title role and Tom Hanks as Presley’s manager, Tom Parker, opened in June. Big Mama Thornton, who recorded the original version of “Hound Dog” in 1952, a year before Presley had success with it, was Ms. Ducouret’s first major acting role. In Thornton, she found a role that blended her booming voice with her seemingly budding acting chops.
Her performance of “Hound Dog” particularly captivated audiences. She was planning to release a studio album called “The Lady Sings the Blues,” according to her her website.
Ms. Ducouret said she’s from Nashville “via Charlotte, NC,” where she was born on September 3, 1977. She originally planned to become a teacher and earned a master’s degree in education from Trevika Nazaren University in Nashville, according to her website (which says she earned Also a BA in Theater from the University of Fisk, also in Nashville). Instead I pursued the arts. Her powerful voice has been heard on international tours with Jimmy Liddell and the Royal Pharaohs, and she has been a featured singer on many albums.
Her performance in “Elvis” quickly gained her fans. Including her fellow cast members. Olivia Dejong, who played Priscilla Presley in the movie, He told Entertainment Weekly Watching Mrs. Dokura “was a spiritual experience”.
“To basically watch a star being born, to have something in it was kind of liberating, it was just — it was crazy to watch,” Ms. Dejong said.
No information was immediately available on survivors.
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