Syracuse University Magazine


Gregg Allman (center) is joined by his manager, Michael Lehman (right), and his longtime friend and assistant, Chank Middleton, at the Bandier event in New York City.

Bandier Alumni Association

Honoring Music Industry Leaders

Last October, during the Allman Brothers Band’s final concert series at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, legendary performer Gregg Allman received more than standing ovations. Allman and his manager, Michael Lehman, were honored at the theater by the Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries to celebrate the establishment of the Allman/Lehman Endowed Scholarship and recognize their commitment to the program. “They are both great friends of the program,” says Professor David Rezak, the program’s director. 

An estimated 220 people, including Bandier students, faculty, alumni, friends, and industry professionals, gathered for the event, where the scholarship was announced and Allman and Lehman received the Bandier Program Industry Leader Award, given by the program’s burgeoning alumni association. “Through his leadership, Michael Lehman sets a good example in the industry as someone who gives back on a regular basis and cares about the future,” says Andrew Beyda ’11, president of the alumni association. “Gregg Allman took part of the money he raised from a concert tribute in his honor, and made that the starting seed of the scholarship fund.”

The need-based scholarship traces its roots to Lehman’s close connection to the Bandier program. An attorney and artist manager who has worked in the music industry for 25 years, he is also the parent of two daughters with ties to Bandier. His oldest daughter, Carly, is a 2012 Newhouse School graduate who took courses in the program, and his youngest daughter, Lindsay, is a 2015 graduate of the program. Lehman initially met Rezak in 2008 and has regularly given lectures, brought guest speakers to campus, and helped students with internships and networking for jobs. “The Bandier program, in my mind, is one of the top music industry schools in the country, and I want to be a part of it,” he says. “It is a great opportunity to not only share what I do, but also to be a part of such a fine program in a fine university.”

  Among those who Lehman has introduced to the program is Allman, who met with Bandier students in 2008 in New York City. Lehman, who has worked closely with Allman for 11 years, says the musician was impressed by the multidisciplinary program and its students. After staging the all-star benefit concert All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman in Atlanta in 2014, Allman and Lehman decided to donate some of the proceeds to two music industry programs: Bandier and one at the University of Georgia, Allman’s home state. “One thing that we have talked about for years since we got together is the fact that philanthropy and giving back is very important,” Lehman says. “If you are lucky enough to be successful in life, like we both have been, then you need to give back. We want to give people the opportunity to follow and pursue their dreams like Gregg and I were able to do.”

Along with honoring Allman and Lehman, the alumni association presented its inaugural Young Alumni Achievement Award to Bandier graduate Drew Taggart ’12 of the electronic dance music DJ duo The Chainsmokers (of “#Selfie” fame). With the program now in its eighth year, the Bandier alumni association continues to grow and be actively involved. Its members foster relationships with students by returning to speak to classes and providing internship, networking, and career opportunities, and by supporting the program itself to ensure it’s in a strong position to carry forward. “It’s really heartwarming to see our alumni reaching back and giving students solid advice,” Rezak says. “That’s a wonderful outcome that we are excited about perpetuating.” —Ruobing Li

Eric Weiss Photo

David Rezak talks about Bandier Program