Judy Small is an Australian folk music icon. Her songs are sung all over the English-speaking world in concert halls, at political rallies and around campfires, and after more than 30 years in the music business she is still going strong, although she sings less frequently since she went back to her second love, the law in 1997.

Judy grew up in the small seaside town of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, and was inspired as a youngster by the folk music boom of the 1960s. When she got her first guitar at the age of 14, it wasn't the Beatles or The Beach Boys she wanted to emulate: it was those big-voiced women like Joan Baez, Mary Travers of Peter Paul and Mary, and Judith Durham of The Seekers, who sang songs about real people and real issues.  

Judy left her home town in 1972 when she moved to Sydney to study. She obtained a Masters Degree in Psychology and during the next ten years she performed locally at folk clubs, wine bars and concerts, gaining a reputation as a powerful interpreter of both traditional and contemporary songs. She started writing her own material to fill gaps in her repertoire, when there weren't songs already written which said what she wanted to say.

Her first album "A Natural Selection" was released independently in 1982, the result of twelve months' fundraising by a group of Judy's friends calling themselves "Good Things Enterprises". She also burst onto the international stage in that year, playing at the Vancouver Folk Festival at the invitation of Eric Bogle. It became clear that Judy's musical career was taking over and she left her public service job to take up the challenge of being a full-time singer-songwriter.

From that point on, Judy went from strength to strength as an internationally acclaimed performer and recording artist. In the 16 years that she was on the road full time, she  regularly toured in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. In 1990, Judy received the prestigious "Mo" Award for Australian Folk Performer of the Year and in 1997 was the Port Fairy Folk Festival Artist of the Year. She was also invited to Beijing for the United Nations Women's Conference NGO Forum in 1995, where she sang to thousands of women from all over the world.

As a performer, Judy Small is unique. Her powerfully political performances are spiced with humour. Her concerts in December 2006, which were recorded for her brand new live CD (out now), were named "Best club/pub gig of 2006" by Australia's Rhythms Magazine. She says that if audiences come away thinking about issues, then that is a worthwhile performance, but only if they come away feeling as though they've had a really good night out is it a successful performance.

Her songs have been recorded by artists such as Ronnie Gilbert, Eric Bogle, The McCalmans, The Corries, Charlie King and Priscilla Herdman and several have been translated into a number of languages.

She has released twelve albums, and has hundreds of songs and a song book to her credit.

In recent years, Judy has cut back her performing schedule to take on the world of the law. She is a family lawyer in Melbourne working for Victoria Legal Aid. But she is far from retired from singing and writing songs.

Judy loves being able to combine two of the loves of her life, music and the law. In both fields she sees herself as working for peace, social justice and equality.

Judy Small, the "grande dame" of Australian folk music is as passionate as ever about her music.

 

 

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