Ashley Massaro starred in a music video about suicide prevention just before taking her own life in 2019. The name of the song is "Choose Song" and it was written by Massaro's close friend Brian Orlando who talked about it when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"Ironically enough today is Chris Cornell's birthday and the song was written after Chris Cornell passed away. I was just really taken aback by the fact that somebody's music who saved my life so many times couldn't find the strength to save his own. They lyrics to the song were me working my way through those feelings and then I sat on them for a while," said Orlando.
"I had known Ashley for quite some time and I had been trying to get her involved with my [radio station] for quite some time. But we were never able to work out the details as she always had something going on or I couldn't get my boss to sit down with her for an interview. Then around Christmas of 2017 she helped me out with a charity broadcast I was doing for Angela's House which helps medically fragile children. She was great and did a lot of broadcasts and the phone started to ring, 'Was that really Ashley!?' and I'm like, 'Yeah.'
"So, that got the boss' gears turning about bringing her on to become a jock for our station. Fast forward a year, I show Brenden B. Brown the song that I wrote for Chris Cornell. We sat in his attic in Long Island for about seven hours and he fleshed out the demo. We sent it to a couple of friends – Vinnie Dombrowski from Sponge and Kevin Martin from Candlebox – and throughout the course of the year we made the song."
He noted that when Ashley came on board as a DJ he found it funny that she was at first nervous to talk on the mic after doing it for years in wrestling. She took to working at the radio station quickly and was always asking what she could do to get better.
"The big fear was that this big TV star came into a local radio station and she wanted to take over. It was the furthest thing from that as all she wanted to do was learn. Brenden started to get involved with GCW and the Joey Janela stuff," revealed Orlando. "And I don't know how it came up but I said, 'Hey, I have this song. Would you check it out?' And I believe it was Ashely that said, 'Are you going to do a music video?' I had never thought about it and then we came up with the concept of the GoPros and carpool karaoke. In casual conversation I asked her if she wanted to be a part of it and she couldn't have been more thrilled that I asked."
Orlando then recalled what Ashley said about the message behind a music video on suicide prevention.
"What I remember specifically about what she said – the only thing that I could quote from that conversation at the studio is, 'I've had my own struggles with this. I would love to help,'" recalled Orlando.
Ashley passed away on May 16, 2019 which was 10 days before her 40th birthday. Orlando shared his reaction to hearing about her passing.
"It was surreal. I knew it happened immediately and it wasn't like I couldn't fully process the news, but I couldn't fully process the sheer irony of everything. We were just a couple of weeks away from releasing the video. I had spoken to her that day and you can go back and look for signs but they really weren't there," stated Orlando.
"Just a couple of weeks before I showed her a rough copy of the video. We had met at a car dealership so she could get her daughter a car. I had been going through a divorce and Ashley was truly one of my closest allies during it. Every time I told somebody I was getting divorced it was, 'What happened? What did you do?' When I told Ashley it was, 'How can I help? Are you okay?' She was friends with my ex-wife too and there was no judgment. After we went and picked out cars we sat and talked for a while and I just remember her being so honest and so accepting to everything I told her about my divorce. Then we sat and watched the video and from what I remember she thought it was fantastic."
Obviously, someone who starred in a suicide prevention video committing suicide would affect the release of the video. Orlando detailed his immediate thoughts on what to do with the "Choose Song" video after Ashley's passing.
"I immediately scrapped it as the whole thing just felt disgusting," revealed Orlando. "I wanted nothing to do with it. I wasn't even thinking at that moment about how other people would react to it as it just seemed completely wrong. There was nothing about this thing that I wanted to touch.
"You have a suicide prevention video with one of your closest friends in it. Here's the star of the video and she takes her life. Everything about it was wrong."
He said that no one asked him about the video for a couple weeks but then Kevin from Candlebox, who collaborated, said that they should release the video to create awareness.
"It was a really good point but I still wanted nothing to do with it. I think maybe I watched the video three times over the course of that year. Then COVID-19 happened and we put together a telethon for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention who were going to be the beneficiaries for the song once we released it," said Orlando. "The idea of the telethon was that everybody was focusing on the nurses and doctors and all the heroes. But what about the people sitting home so they weren't infecting people? What about them? They're heroes too and they're sitting in silence and don't have anybody to talk to. So, that telethon was all about reaching out to them and showing them that all of us are sitting at home. Brenden and Vinnie and Kevin were a part of it. We had Zac from The Nixons and the Goo Goo Dolls and Noah Cyrus. It was a really cool thing."
Orlando then talked about why he eventually decided to release the song and video.
"That telethon was a big part because the idea of the song was that with music you're never alone. There's a brighter note tomorrow and choose the end to your song," said Orlando. "Once that telethon happened, Vinnie reached out to me maybe two weeks later and said, 'Hey cuz, the work with the telethon was so good, would you be into releasing the video? I said, 'Vin, it's been this long. Why now?' He went through his case – the suicide hotline traffic in Michigan was up 1000 percent. People are really unraveling because there's nowhere to go right now; there's no gyms or no restaurants and music was the only thing we had. He goes, 'I watched the video the other day and I think the message is still right.'"
They agreed that the first thing they needed to do was talk to the Massaro family about it. He met with Ashley's daughter who works at the radio station and set up an "Italian lunch" that turned out to be a feast.
"We talked about why Ashley wanted to do it and Ashley's mom said, 'Look Brian, this really isn't my decision. Ashley wanted to do this and she's in the video for a reason. This is what my daughter wanted and these were her wishes.' We watched it and everybody had a positive reaction to it. Vinnie called and explained himself and said, 'There's no pressure. If you guys don't want to do this then we won't talk about it again.' But they agreed. So, we waited a couple of weeks to try to figure out the right way to do it and finally said screw it and put it out," stated Orlando.
He then talked about the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the fans.
"So far with very little promotion we have about 14,000 views. On YouTube you can vote 'Thumbs Up' or 'Thumbs Down' and we have 140 'Thumps Up' and only one 'Thumbs Down' which on the internet is impossible. The fact that you only have one negative reaction is fantastic," said Orlando.
You can follow Brian on Twitter @TattooAndTalk. Brian's full interview aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here. You can view it in video form below.