Named for what is arguably the birthplace of house music — the Paradise Garage in New York — Garage is the dance style closest in spirit and execution to the original disco music of the '70s. Favoring synthesizer runs and gospel vocals similar to house music but with even more polished and shimmering production values than house, garage has more of a soulful, organic feel. Though the style's led by producer/DJs (Todd Terry, Tony Humphries, Kerri Chandler) and production teams (Masters at Work, Blaze), vocalists who bring the soulful anthems to life (Ultra Naté, Dajae, Jocelyn Brown, and Loleatta Holloway, among many others) are much more important than in other forms of dance music.
During the early '80s, garage was originally centered in the New York metro area, mostly in Manhattan, but strong enough across state lines to later be dubbed the Jersey Sound as well. At that time, the early history of garage is practically synonomous with that of house music. It was only when Chicago house became popular around the world that New York's discofied garage emerged as a separate entity from house music in general. (Consequently, the sound that many Brits pointed to as an influence was Midwestern in origin.)
By no means forgotten, though, New York gained ascendance by the turn of the decade, with British producer Joey Negro showing garage influences through his Republic label. Spurred on by admiration from the U.K., a flock of fresh New York labels opened up during the late '80s and early '90s — Strictly Rhythm, King Street, Nervous, Perfect Pair, Freeze, Streetside. London's influential Ministry of Sound even tapped Tony Humphries for an exclusive deal to DJ for its club and produce for its accompanying label. By 1996, a British variant of garage had emerged, dubbed speed garage (and later 2-step) for its aggressive synthesis of drum'n'bass and ragga with the original garage sound.