China Wing Kantner

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China Wing Kantner was born on January 25, 1971 to Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship bandmembers, singer Grace Slick and guitarist Paul Kantner.  Wing is Slick’s maiden name.  Slick and Kantner had a relationship from 1969 to 1975.

China is an American actress and former MTV VJ.  She is a native of San Francisco, living first in the city itself, and later in Marin County, just north of the city, and is an alumna of Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California and Redwood High School, Larkspur, California. She has an older half-brother, Gareth Alexander Kantner, who works in the film industry, and a younger half-brother, Alexander Kantner, who occasionally appeared on-stage with Jefferson Starship playing bass guitar.

She first appeared as an infant on the sleeve of the Kantner/Slick 1971 solo LP Sunfighter. She has also been given co-songwriting credits by her father on several of his songs. She also sang a song on his 1983 album Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

In July 1986, she appeared as a guest VJ on MTV, which led to her making regular appearances for the next four years during her summer vacations. When she started working for the station at the age of just 15, she was, at the time, the youngest ever MTV VJ. As an MTV VJ, she even had to interview her own father for the MTV Summer of Love 20th anniversary celebrations. For a while around 1993, she also presented a Saturday night phone-in request show on a local Bay Area radio station, KRQR-FM.

Having started off acting in school plays, Kantner has appeared in several movies (such as Airheads, The Stoned Age and The Evening Star), television sitcoms (notably Home Improvement) and stage plays. Between acting roles, she studied psychology at Santa Monica College, having relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early 1990s. Her 1998 appearance in season seven of Home Improvement as the recurring character Willow Wilson was her final professional acting role, and she has now retired from acting. In late 2001, following an interview in Vanity Fair, she also decided to stop giving them, on the grounds that every interviewer in the past had always asked her the same few questions, and she felt that there was nothing left for her to say. She did, however, break this silence to provide a few brief quotes for Jeff Tamarkin’s book on the history of Jefferson Airplane.

Like her mother, Kantner has, over the years, struggled with alcoholism.  She overcame this problem around 1998, and has recently celebrated 10 years of sobriety. She contributed a section to the book Playing It Straight by David Dodd, alongside her mother and other recovering substance abusers, such as Dennis Hopper, Steven Tyler and Ozzy Osbourne.

Now retired from acting, she currently resides in Los Angeles. In 1999, she married a prominent Beverly Hills dentist, Jamie Azdair, although the couple is now divorced. While married, she often used the name China Azdair in private, but was usually billed as China Kantner when she made any public appearances. Since her divorce, she has once more returned to using her maiden name.

After retiring from acting, she studied art history at UCLA. In 2007, she obtained degree in Christian theology (with a minor in English) at Loyola Marymount University. In a 2007 interview, her mother stated, “My daughter loves studying Jesus. Some friends of hers turn their nose up at that. They don’t understand that she is not talking about churches and what churches say; she is studying the actual words and message of Jesus.”

Kantner has, over the years, made several contributions to the music of Jefferson Starship as both songwriter and singer. However, she has also commented in interviews that she has no real musical aspirations of her own, claiming that she cannot sing very well. She has also said that having well-known musicians for parents actually lost her several parts, as directors automatically assumed she was also musical.

Kantner has several songwriting credits on various Jefferson Starship albums. The first is for the song “Don’t Let It Rain”, from the 1976 album Spitfire. This was followed by further credits for “Things To Come” (Freedom at Point Zero, 1979), “Out of Control” (Winds of Change, 1982), and “The Sky Is No Limit” on her father’s 1983 solo album Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

Kantner appeared as credited lead vocalist on the song “Declaration Of Independence”, and contributing vocalist on “The Sky Is No Limit” and “Let’s Go”, all of which appear on Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra. She also made an uncredited appearance on the songs “Wooden Ships” and “Volunteers” on the 1995 live album, Deep Space/Virgin Sky, which was later re-released in an expanded form as Deeper Space/Extra Virgin Sky.

In 1983, she also appeared alongside both her parents in the video for the song Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra.

She has also made numerous appearances on stage with both her parents. The earliest of these was in 1984, when she joined Slick to sing “All The Machines” (from her solo album Software) at the 7th Bay Area Music Awards in San Francisco. From 1992 to 2005, she made a number of appearances with Jefferson Starship – The Next Generation, mainly in the Los Angeles area. One of these infrequent appearances was on September 21, 2001, when she joined both her parents on stage for what was to become Grace Slick’s final public performance as a singer. Although Kantner has not appeared with Jefferson Starship since August 2005, in 2007, she made a special guest appearance at an event called Vigilstock 2007, where she sang lead vocals on both “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love” – fragmentary clips of these performances appear on MySpace, where she maintains a private profile. – adapted from Wikipedia

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