Fans who tune in to the Sunday, Nov. 5, episode of The CW's "7th Heaven" -- yes, the show is on Sunday now, after 10-plus seasons on Monday -- will get to hear a new side of Beverley Mitchell, who plays the quirky Rev. Lucy Camden-Kinkirk on network television's last traditional family drama.
In "Broken Hearts and Promises," written by series creator Brenda Hampton, Mitchell sings "Angel," the debut single from her upcoming self-titled country music CD. The episode focuses on the heart problems of Lucy's father, the Rev. Eric Camden (Stephen Collins).
"It's another opportunity that came about," says Mitchell of her foray into the music industry. "I've loved music all my life. It's so much of who I am. Country music, that's my soul. It's what I love.
"I've always said, 'Take every opportunity you're given and don't look back.' You've got to live your life to the fullest, do everything you've ever dreamed of. I couldn't ignore it any more. I've been wanting to do it for years, and finally, I just ignored my stomach turning inside out, flipping around, and just went to Nashville.
"I did it, and we spent the summer out there writing music, went out and recorded. I finished my album, and Brenda was so kind to put one of my songs on the show. Actually, it's the very first song I ever wrote."
Offering help and encouragement to Mitchell along the way has been one of her country-music idols, Reba McEntire. Ironically, on Sunday, Nov. 19, McEntire's sitcom, "Reba," returns (like "7th," it was on The WB, which merged with UPN to form The CW) and will air Sundays in an hourlong block right before "7th Heaven." Two original episodes air on the 19th; afterward, a repeat tops the hour, followed by an original.
"There are no stop signs in front of that woman," Mitchell says of McEntire. "She can do anything. Reba has been phenomenal. She has been so encouraging for me, given me advice, let me go work out of her office when I was in Nashville."
After its apparent series finale last year on The WB garnered very good ratings, The CW gave "7th Heaven" a reprieve and returned it for an 11th season. But not all the cast came back. Along with Collins and Mitchell, the only other original cast member around this season is Catherine Hicks, as wife and mother Annie Camden.
Jessica Biel and Barry Watson, who played the oldest Camden children, had departed in earlier seasons. Not returning this year were Mackenzie Rosman and David Gallagher, who played younger siblings.
"I'm the one that stuck around," Mitchell says, "the only original [kid]. I am so honored to be a part of something so amazing. I get to do what I love every day with the people I love like family. I've got the best job in the world, and I don't really see any need to run away from it right now."
Still at home are the young Camden twins, added during the show's run, played by brothers Nikolas and Lorenzo Brino. But the house is much emptier than it was, and to fill the void, Hampton has brought in some new wayward teens for the Camdens to help.
First among them was T-Bone (Colton James), a witty, deadpan movie-ticket seller who has a crush on Lucy and is convinced she'll leave her husband (George Stults) to be with him.
"Colton is amazing," Mitchell says. "He is so much fun to work with. He is just a breath of fresh air. His comedic timing is great. He's so real and honest and weird, and I love it. I love working with him."
Asked if Lucy will ever yield to his persistent attentions, Mitchell says, "I doubt that. I think more she sees him as being a little lost and just trying to find somewhere where he can fit in and find someone to love him and someone to take care of him, and that's what the Camdens do. We take in the lost."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times