Whitney Houston, who has curly hair and a white tank top on, poses in front of a pale pink background with a blue frame. The name "Whitney" is written in cursive at the top left corner.
Album cover for “Whitney.” There were countless game changers we’ve lost this decade and their memory will live on forever. Here are some staff-picked tributes.

Whitney Houston

At just 19 years old, Whitney Houston made her national television debut on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1983. Fresh from signing a record deal, she stepped on stage and sang a beautiful rendition of “Home” from “The Wiz.” The performance proved her lifelong destiny, which was to be a star.  

Closing her eyes, you can witness the sense of wonderment written all across her face as she loses herself in the journey of the ballad. Her instrument was smooth, angelic, powerful and incredibly convincing all at the same time—it was the first time the world experienced the magic of The Voice.

With the soul bearing balladry of “I Have Nothing” and the infectious dance-pop bliss of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” Houston went on to become the most awarded female artist of all time and one of the greatest selling artists with 200 million records sold worldwide. In the midst of MTV’s golden era, she was the first black woman to receive heavy rotation on the network—opening doors for others to follow suit.

Houston is most likely your favorite singer’s favorite singer. To this day, no other performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” even resonates the same impact as hers. Her sheer ability to connect with a song and precisely execute each intricacy of a feeling was simply astonishing. Even if she primarily showcased her vocals, she was a true musician in every sense of the word. 

It is merely impossible to put her massive influence in words. To this day, there are aspiring singers studying her craft and attempting to emulate every run, inflection and technicality her voice exuded. Besides her otherworldly talent and beauty, Houston’s charismatic personality shined just as bright and her mentorship to other upcoming female artists never went unnoticed. 

Losing Houston in 2012 was devastating for those who grew up listening to her and knew the woman behind the fame, but all of the music and memories remain near and dear to our hearts. We will always love her.

-Rylee Jackson

Stan Lee

Comics legend Stan Lee’s passing in December 2018 was a massive blow to not only the comics community, but American pop culture at large. 

Stan Lee—while sometimes a controversial figure among comics fans—had elevated the medium beyond a niche fanbase through his enthusiasm for and promotion of the medium as something bigger than just stories for children. By the time of his death, he was just as famous and beloved as many of his creations, and his mark on comics history cannot be downplayed. 

Without Stan Lee, it’s arguable superhero comics would never have attained the mainstream success they enjoy today.

Matt Cotter

Robin Williams

The death of actor and comedian Robin Williams in 2014 shook the world and left us with one less laugh. 

Williams is best known for his work as the Genie in “Aladdin,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and the 1995 version of “Jumanji.” He would bring laughter into homes and allow for families to bond over a quick witted joke he made. The movies he starred in marked our childhood and despite all the joy he brought us, his death brought awareness to mental illness and depression.  

After William’s suicide there has been increased talk as it related to depression and what it really looks like. Although he brought people laughs that will never be forgotten, he continues to create a lasting mark on society. 

He will forever be Genie and Mrs. Doubtfire, but now he will also be known for the national dialogue he has brought.   

-Andrew Mendez

Carrie Fisher

As an accomplished actress, singer, writer and empathetic human, Carrie Fisher left a massive impact on the world. 

Her first role was on Broadway with her mother in “Irene,” and she continued to act in several mediums. Often in media coverage, stars and in particular actresses, are reduced to a character. Fisher was not Princess Leia, despite popular belief. Fisher was a writer, singer and activist. More than anything, Carrie Fisher was human. 

Public figures are often categorized, made easily consumable for the public. Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffered from substance abuse throughout her life. She spoke often about mental illness and addiction in addition to advocating for women’s, LGBT+ and animal rights in addition to supporting AIDS and HIV organizations. The world became a bit dimmer the day it was left with only memories.

Fisher died Dec. 27, 2016. In her memoir, “Wishful Drinking,” she wrote, “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” Her ashes are laid partially next to her mother, Debbie Reynolds, with the other part kept in a giant, novelty Prozac pill.

-Jayme Sileo

The Sagebrush Staff can be reached at ryleejackson@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.