Manny Lehman is the Mastercard of circuit party DJs: he's everywhere you want to be. Over the last few years, Lehman's headlined nearly every major event including Montreal's Black and Blue, Chicago's Fireball, DC's Cherry Ball, Philadelphia's Blue Ball... the list goes on and on. Most recently, he was the featured DJ at The Zoo Party, the main event at San Diego's Pride.
Lehman's high-octane blend of aggressive big room vocals infused with hard tribal beats and slamming drums has also landed him in the booths of virtually every important dance club in the country. He currently holds residencies at New York City's Roxy, Miami's Crobar, DC's Nation, and Los Angeles' Here.
In addition, Lehman is a prodigy of the studio. He has produced a plethora of Billboard charting remixes for artists such as Madonna and Janet Jackson. He's also released a laundry list of top-selling compilation CDs including "Winter Party" from Centaur Entertainment, "Bangin'" from Tommy Boy Records, and most recently, "Freedom", also from Tommy Boy.
"Dance music has always been a part of my life," says Lehman, called the 'Latin from Manhattan' though he was actually born and raised in the barrios of New York City's Bronx. "As a child, music was an escape from the hood. I'd listen to Barry White, Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder, and Chaka Khan. I lived and breathed their music. They remain a part of my soul even today.
"I consider myself lucky to have been able to make a career out of my love for music. It enables me to offer people memorable experiences and fantastical journeys. I like to make people happy the way Donna, Stevie and Chaka made me happy."
Lehman began his career in music hawking vinyls at a downtown Manhattan record store. "It was one of the most important experiences in my musical education," he says. "Eight years behind that counter instilled in me a street sensibility for hot dance beats."
The store also offered Lehman unparalleled access to industry heavy weights who frequented the shop: luminaries like Shep Pettibone, Junior Vasquez, Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Hex Hector. "It helps to learn from the best," says Lehman.
In an industry where it's all about who you know, it also helps to be friends with the best. Lehman's connections opened doors to the executive end of the music business. He became a record producer at A&M, developing and nurturing new artists. Among them was powerhouse diva CeCe Peniston whose mega-hit "Finally" remains a dance floor staple today.
"I loved that my job was to help people realize their dreams," says Lehman. However, he had his own artistic aspirations and they eventually led to his resignation. "I wanted to explore and create my own sound. I wanted to build my own unique brand of music."
The rest, as they say, is history.
Lehman has undoubtedly found his voice through the turntables. He's also discovered there are millions of people - from all corners of the world - that thrill to hear and experience it.