Former judge Judy Small is leaping out of retirement to return to her first love, music, for this weekend's Folk by the Sea festival in Kiama. Small started performing in 1973 and subsequently produced twelve albums, hundreds of songs (many in the vein of feminism and politics) and spent 16 years on the road touring internationally and nationally. Read more: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are coming to life at Wollongong Botanic Garden In 1989 she graduated as a lawyer and stopped performing full-time to concentrate on her new career, eventually choosing to give it away completely when she became a Family Court Judge on the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. "While I was a practising lawyer I was still singing part-time - doing gigs and festivals on weekends or touring in my holidays ... I still loved being able to do both for the 14 years that I was a lawyer," Small said. "However, once I became a judge, I felt obliged to retire from singing because judges don't have political opinions that they express in public. When I took all the politics out of my music I was left with some pretty songs, but if that's all there was it would have been pretty dull." For the next eight years she said she hardly sang at all: "not in public in Australia ever, and only once overseas at a tribute concert for Ronnie Gilbert [a female US folk legend] in 2016." Small never intended to pick up the guitar where she left off, but an invitation to sing at a Victorian festival post-knee surgery meant she was loved up "high on drugs" and accepted. She said she enjoyed performing so much she would happily let the music play if asked to do so. Folk By The Sea organisers invited Small to perform at last year's festival, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, thankfully she was still available for the 2022 edition. Read more: Why Wollongong will be likened to Copenhagen at a WHO conference "People can expect what I've always done: me with my guitar, singing stories and 'songs of social significance' with a large dollop of fun and humour - old favourites, revived relevant songs, and a couple they might not have heard before," she said. Small will be joined in Kiama by a lineup of 24 national and local acts headed by celebrated Indigenous singer-songwriter Shellie Morris, award-winning Irish-Australian singer-songwriter Enda Kenny and hoedown band The Button Collective. Tickets are available at www.folkbythesea.com.au. We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on the Illawarra Mercury website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. Sign up for a subscription here.