"I've wanted to do a solo record for as long as I can remember, but if I'd tried before, I wouldn't have been ready and the album wouldn't have been as good as it is. I really know how to use my voice now and how to look after it – it’s like being an athlete, you have to exercise the muscle. And I really feel like I've earned my stripes now."
Richards' fans would say that she's earned her stripes several times over. She signed her first record deal 23 years ago and has achieved enormous success with Steps, racking up 14 Top Five hits, three Number One albums, a BRIT Award and 20 million record sales.
The iconic pop group reunited for last year's acclaimed Tears on the Dancefloor album, which debuted at Number Two, and a hugely popular 22-date sold out arena tour.
But now, it's time for Richards to step into the spotlight alone.