Steps star Claire Richards is releasing a solo album.

The 40-year-old singer has signed a deal with Sony records and will release her debut single 'On My Own' next week before following up with her album 'My Wildest Dreams' in November.

However, Claire has insisted that her solo music does not mean the end for Steps and she is firmly committed to the group and her bandmates Ian 'H' Watkins, Lee Latchford-Evans, Lisa Scott-Lee and Fay Tozer.

She told The Sun: ''I don't feel this is going to take anything away from Steps, it's very much an entity in itself.

''No single one of us is ever going to be bigger than Steps as a whole, I don't think.

''Everybody's been aware from the very start that this was my plan for the gap during albums.

It's actually been very good this time because there hasn't been the shock.

''I don't feel like there's anything that can damage that now, we're in such a good place.

''We've been through our ups and downs and our difficulties but I don't think that's there any more.

''And we're all old enough and ugly enough to realise now that the only way to make it work is to be honest and be up front about everything.''

Steps got back together for their 20th anniversary last year for a tour and new LP 'Tears on the Dancefloor' - which hit number two on the UK charts - and Claire was delighted they'd proven people wrong with their comeback.

She said previously: ''I think when everybody first heard we were releasing another album, they were like, 'Pffft'. But they just have to eat their words, which has kind of happened throughout our career. The statistics speak for themselves.''