Last month we learned of the loss of a truly singular voice. Shonka Dukureh, who made such a splash in her Hollywood debut in Elvis this year, passed away suddenly just months after the biopic’s premiere. She was only 44.
In case you hadn’t heard the heartbreaking story, the Big Mama Thornton portrayer was at home with her young children in her Nashville apartment when she collapsed. Her son found her unresponsive in her bed and ran to a neighbor, who called 911. Sadly there was nothing that could be done.
So what happened? Weeks on, the coroner’s report has now come out. As expected, the manner of her passing was natural causes. But what hit so suddenly that took down such a vibrant, powerful voice? According to Us Weekly, who obtained the report, Shonka’s cause of death was “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.” That’s a hardening of the arteries — the leading cause of heart attacks. It’s unclear if the condition was something she already knew about and was being treated for.
So unfair. Such an awful way for the longtime gospel singer’s own amazing musical story to end.