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Southern Lens is a showcase for independent film from and about the South, culled from film festivals and presented by South Carolina ETV. By turns warm, humorous, compelling, and heart-breaking, each film presents a place and time in Southern culture as seen through the eyes of one filmmaker.

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Southern Lens

When We All Get to Heaven

ETV’s weekly independent film series, Southern Lens, takes a look at a non-traditional gospel choir in Charleston. When We All Get to Heaven chronicles the behind-the-scenes story of the racially-diverse Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Gospel Choir, and the ways in which the choir members’ relationships represent the source of the music’s power.

Featuring interviews, rehearsal preparation and choir performances, the film’s intention is “to accurately share what the choir is about -- its uniqueness, and how everything the members do is part of trying to do good things, making themselves better people for a better community, using the spiritual nature of gospel and spirituals as their catalyst,” says producer, writer and director Brad Jayne, a Charleston resident.

The 80-voice choir formed in response to a need for Charleston’s symphony to grow its audience’s reach and diversity. The all-volunteer choir debuted at the First Annual CSO Gospel Christmas in December of 2000.  By 2005, they reached international acclaim with their first European tour of Prague, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria and Liepzig, Germany.  Now celebrating its sixth year, the CSO Gospel Choir performs several times annually, including a Palm Sunday performance, the CSO Gospel Christmas, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and regional events throughout the Southeast. 

“This music’s inherent spirituality is very powerful and it’s in that powerful experience that these unique individuals have come together.  They would not have ever crossed paths except to bring this divine inspiration to a growing audience of gospel and spirituals enthusiasts.  The music we perform brings us in direct connection with God and makes the relationship of this group all the more special,” says choir director Vivian E. Jones.

The documentary highlights the harmony this collection of individuals has created by looking past stereotypes, working towards a better understanding of one another, and uniting their voices in the name of peace and love for all mankind. 

“As we continue to grow and evolve, we discover the power love has and the stronger society it creates,” says Jayne.  “This is the process of getting closer to ‘heaven.’”


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