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Photo courtesy of Project Publicity
Name: Manny Lehman
Occupation: DJ/ Producer
“Finally, it has happened to me.” Remember those infectious words from that dance number from 1991?
The singer was CeCe Peniston. She was discovered by Manny Lehman, known to the world now as a top international DJ and producer, but known back then as the A&R (artist and repertoire) head of A&M Records.
“I heard these booming background vocals on a song by this rap artist and I said, ‘who’s THAT?’” says Lehman. “She was 16. I flew out to Arizona to meet her. She told me she had penned this song called Finally while in high school. I quickly signed CeCe, produced the hit track and executive produced her album.”
Possessed with a flair for remixing tracks for artists ranging from Sheryl Crow and Sting to Janet Jackson and soap opera star Michael Damian (laugh as you might, The Young And The Restless actor hit No. 1 with Rock On thanks to Lehman), the A&R head ditched his corporate hat in favour of a DJ cap — one he’s worn professionally for the past 10 years.
Non-stop weekend trips to cities worldwide has become the norm for the native Latin New Yorker, who’s now based in Los Angeles with his own home studio.
“The biggest event I spun at was in Montreal. There was like 12,000 people. My hands were shaking. I nearly had to take Imodium AD,” Lehman jokes.
Reflecting on life, Lehman says, “I do ask myself how the hell did all this happen?” For starters he can hang out with Her Majesty, Madonna. “We used to hang out all the time back in the day at Paradise Garage (the famous New York night club).”
Lehman is now gearing up to release his third self-produced CD, a double disc effort featuring remixes and 10 original songs, half of which are written by him. “I called on a lot of father favours to get it done,” he says referring to singers like Taylor Dayne and Peniston, who’ve lent their vocals on Lehman’s high energy electronica-fused house tracks.
“But I’ll play anything from Mozart to Madonna as long as I get people moving,” he adds.
And Lehman got them moving at Cannes spinning at The Da Vinci Code premiere.
On retirement, Lehman says he’ll “probably retire one day with a straw hat on some tropical island,” but until then he’s happy to dish out some advice to the up-and-comers.
“Take your career seriously or you’ll lose it all.”
Lehman’s as yet untitled CD is slated for a spring release and will be on iTunes and perfectbeat.com.