My grandmother had an LP called 'The Original and Great Carter Family', that I recall listening to quite often when I was a child, and this record is now in my collection.
The main reason why I have dwelt on the music of the Carter Family in some recent song of the week emails, and now am doing in this one, is because I believe that in order to have a good understanding and an informed appreciation of Bluegrass music one must have some familiarity with the music of the Carter Family. I believe that the same holds true to one extent or another as regards certain other forms of music that predate Bluegrass for having a good understanding and an informed appreciation of Bluegrass: e.g., the American Old-Time fiddle tune square dance tradition (celebrated in Bill Monroe's classic original 'Uncle Pen'), some of the types of church singing that the fathers of Bluegrass grew up with, and select examples of pre-World War II Blues and Jazz.
In Bluegrass circles, the music of the Carter Family is often categorized as 'pre-Bluegrass'. Outside Bluegrass circles, people variously label their music as 'Hillbilly', 'Old-Time', 'Country', 'Folk', and even sometimes as 'Bluegrass'.
The 12 songs on the record - which can all be easily found on youtube - are:
Shortly after I discovered Bluegrass, I came across a Bill Monroe live Bluegrass Gospel cassette tape in a friend's tape collection, and borrowed it. This was the first time I had heard Bill Monroe, and Cryin' Holy was one of the first songs on the tape. (Being new to Bluegrass at the time, I was happily surprised at how many of the songs on the tape I already knew from non-bluegrass recordings of the same songs.) I recall liking that it was played much faster than on the old Carter Family record, and with my three favorite instruments taking turns playing breaks on it: fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. I also remember finding it interesting that the lyrics were noticeably different than what I used to from the Carter Family record.