‘Elvis’ Actress Shonka Dukureh’s Cause of Death Released by Coroner

Shonka Dukureh in Elvis. (Credit: Warner Bros.)

Just over a month after Elvis actress Shonka Dukureh was found deceased inside her home in Nashville, Tennessee, her cause of death has been released.

The autopsy report obtained Monday by Us Weekly said Dukureh died on July 21 from “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.” She was just 44 years old.

The document stated that the manner of death was “natural.” It added that Dukureh was “discovered unresponsive in bed by her minor son … [who] ran to the neighbors for help, who then called 911.”

Related StoryAnne Heche Cause of Death Released by Los Angeles County Coroner

The Metro Nashville Police Department said at the time of her death that there were no signs of foul play, as previously reported. Police noted there were two young children with Dukureh inside her apartment.

The actress and blues singer portrayed music legend Big Mama Thornton in director Baz Luhrmann’s hit film Elvis, which was released in June.

Shonka shared her excitement about being in the project by reposting photos Luhrmann had uploaded to Instagram.

The movie-musical Elvis marked Dukureh’s first film role and saw her perform Big Mama Thornton’s 1952 hit “Hound Dog.”

Elvis Presley recorded “Hound Dog” four years after Thornton. For decades it was rumored that Presley stole the track, but original songwriter Mike Stoller told the “Rolling Stone Music Now” podcast in June that the single was not stolen, although he admitted he, co-writer Jerry Leiber and Thornton were never fully compensated for the track.

Following Dukureh’s death, Luhrmann paid tribute to the actress on Instagram.

“A special light went out today and all of the Elvis movie family are heartbroken by the loss of Shonka Dukureh,” Luhrmann wrote in the July 21 post. “From the moment she came into our world, Shonka brought joy, spirit and of course her voice and her music. Whenever she was on set, on stage or even just in the room, everyone always felt uplifted.”