McDaniel was a songwriter as well as a performer. She honed her songwriting skills while working with her brother Otis McDaniel's carnival company, a minstrel show. McDaniel and her sister Etta Goff launched an all-female minstrel show in 1914 called the McDaniel Sisters Company. After the death of her brother Otis in 1916, the troupe began to lose money, and Hattie did not get her next big break until 1920. From 1920 to 1925, she appeared with Professor George Morrison's Melody Hounds, a black touring ensemble. In the mid-1920s, she embarked on a radio career, singing with the Melody Hounds on station KOA in Denver. From 1926 to 1929, she recorded many of her songs for Okeh Records and Paramount Records in Chicago. McDaniel recorded seven sessions: one in the summer of 1926 on the rare Kansas City label Meritt; four sessions in Chicago for Okeh from late 1926 to late 1927 (of the 10 sides recorded, only four were issued), and two sessions in Chicago for Paramount in March 1929.