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January 25, 1971 |
|Known for||actress, MTV VJ|
Kantner is the daughter of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship bandmembers, singer Grace Slick (born Wing) and guitarist Paul Kantner. 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 appears on-stage with Jefferson Starship playing bass guitar.
A common misbelief is that her name was originally "god" (with a small "g"), and was only later changed to "China". However, Jeff Tamarkin's 2003 book on the history of Jefferson Airplane, Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane, explains this resulted from a sardonic remark made by her mother to a nurse. In San Francisco County, a birth was registered for January 25, 1971, for a female child with the surname Kantner. The mother's maiden surname was Wing. No given name was registered for the child at that time.
While working for MTV, she was sometimes credited on-screen as "China Slick Kantner", although this was never her legal name. Later in her MTV career, she was credited simply as "China Kantner". In January 1988, she was interviewed by Jonathan King for the BBC TV show Entertainment USA as part of a feature on the children of rock stars working as MTV VJs. During this interview, she stated that, while she initially did not like her name, she grew to like it as she got older.
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.
MTV and radio
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 15, she was, at the time, the youngest ever MTV VJ. As an MTV VJ, she interviewed her father for the MTV Summer of Love 20th anniversary celebrations. For a while around 1989, 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 Branch Leaf Wilson (she 'pruned' the name back) was her final professional acting role, and she has now retired from acting. In late 2001, following an interview in Vanity Fair, she also stopped giving interviews. She did, however, 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 has been sober since about 1998. 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. In 1999, she married a Los Angeles dentist, Jamie Azdair, although the couple divorced in 2006. While they were married, she preferred to be known by her married name of China Azdair. On April 13, 2011, Kantner married actor and producer Seth Isler and, again taking her husband's name, now prefers to be known as China Isler.
After retiring from acting, she studied art history at UCLA. In 2007, she obtained a 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.
According to her agency resume, Kantner is known to have appeared in the following stage plays:
- Batman - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, California.
- Flying Hormones - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, California.
- Touch Me - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, California.
- The Two Orphans - The Ensemble Theatre Company, San Francisco, California.
Kantner has appeared as an actress in the following TV shows:
- Monty, as Geena (series regular), Touchstone/Fox Broadcasting, 1994.
- Murphy Brown, as Beth (guest star), Warner Brothers/CBS TV, 1996.
- Too Something (aka New York Daze), as Jennifer (guest star), Warner Brothers/Fox Broadcasting, 1996.
- LA Firefighters, as Flame (recurring character), 20th Century Fox/Fox Broadcasting, 1996.
- Grace Under Fire, as Waitress (guest star), Carsey-Werner/ABC TV, 1997.
- Home Improvement, as Willow Branch Leaf Wilson (recurring character), ABC TV, 1998.
She has also appeared as herself as a guest or contributor on the following shows:
- China Kantner's Guest VJ Hour, MTV, July 1986 to circa 1990.
- Behind The Music - Jefferson Airplane, VH1 TV, April 5, 1998.
- The Home & Family Show, The Family Channel, July 6, 1998.
- Politically Incorrect, ABC TV, November 26, 1999.
Kantner has appeared in the following movies:
- Three of Hearts, as unknown character, New Line Films, 1993.
- The Stoned Age (aka Tack's Chicks), as Jill, Trimark Films, 1994.
- Airheads, as Female Rocker, 20th Century Fox, 1994.
- S.F.W., as Female Pantyhose Gunman, Black Dog Productions, 1994.
- Grace of My Heart, as Singer on beach, Universal Pictures, 1996
- The Evening Star, as Jane, Paramount Pictures, 1996.
With Jefferson Starship
Kantner has appeared as a special guest singer at the following concerts by Jefferson Starship and related acts:
- Grace Slick, 7th Bay Area Music Awards, San Francisco, California, 2 March 1984.
- Jefferson Starship, Mile Square Park, Fountain Valley, California, 25 October 1992.
- Jefferson Starship, The Bandshell, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, 25 September 1993.
- Jefferson Starship, House Of Blues, Los Angeles, California, 21 January 1995.
- Jefferson Starship, House Of Blues, Los Angeles, California, 2 June 1996.
- Jefferson Starship, Glendale Street Party, Los Angeles, California, 22 June 1996.
- Jefferson Starship, House Of Blues, Los Angeles, California, 26 May 2000.
- Jefferson Starship, Galaxy Theatre, Anaheim, California, 14 June 2001.
- Jefferson Starship, Starlight Amphitheatre, San Diego, California, 16 June 2001.
- Jefferson Starship, Canyon Club, Agoura Hills, California, 3 August 2001.
- Jefferson Starship, Centre for Performing Arts, Cerritos, California, 6 or 7 September 2001. (Two shows played at this venue on consecutive days, but it is presently unclear which one featured China's appearance.)
- Jefferson Starship, Arrowfest, Long Beach, California, 29 September 2001.
- Jefferson Starship, Balboa Park, San Diego, California, 28 April 2002.
- Jefferson Starship, Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California, 29 August 2002.
- Jefferson Starship, Love Ride 19, Glendale, California, 10 November 2002.
- Jefferson Starship, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California, 11 July 2003 (Early show).
- Jefferson Starship, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California, 11 July 2003 (Late show).
- Jefferson Starship, Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, California, 12 July 2003.
- Paul Kantner & Friends, Jenner Playhouse, Jenner, California, 13 July 2003.
- Jefferson Starship, Humphrey's Concerts On The Bay, San Diego, California, 31 August 2005.
- Baker, C. (1996). "Fine China", People, December 6, 1996.
- Brown, A. (2000). Moon, I'll Get It - The China Kantner Story. Liverpool, UK: Holding Together magazine, November 2000.
- Dodd, D. (1996). Playing It Straight. Deerfield Beach, FL:HCI.
- Kantner, C. (2008). Official MySpace profile.
- Tamarkin, J. (2003). Got A Revolution: The Turbulent Flight Of Jefferson Airplane. New York: Atria Books.
- Unknown. (1998). China Kantner's Agency Resume, Los Angeles:Paradigm Talent and Literacy Agency.
- "Daughter born to pop singer" January 26, 1971, The Day
- Bio IMDb web site
- Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane, Tamarkin, 2003, p235
- "This interview aired on the BBC's "Entertainment USA" program in early January 1988 as part of a feature on the children of famous rock musicians working as MTV"
- Baker 1996, Brown 2000, Dodd 1996, Kantner 2008
- "Grace Slick" 2007-06-15 Kirkwood Times