At first, the list of gospel performers inked among Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest’s roster of rockers looks a bit out of place.

But to Rev. Mark Gordon, it’s not unusual at all.

“I think it’s actually complementary,” said Gordon, the festival’s gospel programmer who introduced the idea of having the genre at Bluesfest to executive director Mark Monahan over a decade ago.

“There’s a lot of blues music and soul music in gospel — a lot of artists like Al Green, Gladys Knight, Whitney Houston, Bono from U2, Elvis Presley, they all started out singing in church choirs. And a lot of artists are going back and recording albums to take them back to where they first started.”

This weekend, the 11th annual World Gospel Jam at Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest — which consists of the All Nations Gospel choir, Voices of Praise, Newworldson — which Gordon calls the “U2 of Christian music” — Reggie Young and Gospel Park, Israel and New Breed, Papa San and more — takes place on the Hard Rock Café stage on Saturday and the Capital Music Hall in the ByWard Market on Sunday.

The genre isn’t highlighted enough, but “everyone enjoys it when they hear it,” said Gordon, a youth pastor and choir director at the Cornerstone House of Refuge. “It’s the one genre of music where you can always find something inspirational,” he said.

And the great thing about gospel music today is that it combines traditional gospel music with jazz, hip-hop, Classical, Baroque and R&B, said Gordon. With “new” genres like pop gospel, reggae gospel, Christian rap and “Holy hip-hop,” gospel today breaks the stereotypes of the past, he said.

While the music isn’t religious, it spiritual, said Gordon.

“Everybody needs hope and light and encouragement in terms of a sense of direction. You’re not going to hear about sex and violence, but you will hear about love, hope, light and compassion.”