|September 03, 1977
|45 YEARS OLD
Singer and musician known for her acting debut smash in the 2022 Baz Luhrmann film Elvis in a role as the artist Big Momma Thorton, the first singer to make a hit single of the song Hound Dog. Her castmate Olivia DeJonge was quoted as saying that Shonka's performance of the song for the movie "was a spiritual experience" to behold. Sadly, though, she would die on July 21, 2022, found unresponsive by family members at home in Nashville, Tennessee. She was working on releasing a studio album titled The Lady Sing the Blues at the time of her death.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, she was raised predominantly in Nashville, Tennessee. Her original career ambitions were to become a teacher. She held a masters degree in education from Trevecca Nazarene University. Her undergraduate degree, though, was in theater from Fisk University.
She's appeared as a vocalist on the tracks of many famous musicians, including: Nick Cave, Smoke Dza, and Ashley Cleveland. She also appeared in a music video for rapper Doja Cat.
She left behind two children.
She toured internationally with Jamie Lidell in 2017.